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Glossary

Estate Litigation

Ancillary Probate Administration. Ancillary probate administration is probate in a jurisdiction that differs from where you reside. If you are a resident of Florida and own real property in Florida, and in Indiana, an ancillary probate administration would be filed in Indiana and the formal probate administration would be filed in Florida.

Assets. Assets are anything you own that has value. real property. Assets can be titled, such as vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance and qualified financial accounts; personal property, such as guns, knives, stamps, coins, jewelry, art, furnishings, and digital.

Beneficiary. A beneficiary is the person(s) and/or organization(s) who will receive or benefit from a will or trust after you die.

Beneficiary Designation. Beneficiary designation is the naming of beneficiaries on assets as life insurance policies, IRAs and 401(k) accounts so that they won’t be subject to probate.

Codicil. A codicil is a written addition or a supplement that explains, modifies, or amends a will or part of one.

Contest. To contest a will means that you’re going to dispute or challenge the terms of a will or a trust.

Custodian. A custodian under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, is a person named to manage assets left to a minor.

Digital Assets. Digital assets are property rights or interests that exist virtually, for example on the Internet. Online savings or investment accounts, rewards points linked to an online account with an airline or rental car company, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are also types of digital assets.

Disinherit. To disinherit means that a person wants to prevent a beneficiary from receiving an inheritance.

Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney involves designating an individual to continue to handle all your financial transactions and operate your business. A durable power of attorney allows the designation to remain in effect when the appointing person becomes disabled.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to give someone else the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. It is also called a health care proxy or medical power of attorney.

Elective Share. A guarantee under Florida Statute that a surviving spouse receives the minimum 30 percent interest in a deceased spouse’s estate.

Estate. An estate is the bundle of assets and liabilities that you own at time of your death.

Estate Planning Attorney. An estate planning attorney assists clients in drafting and implementing legal documents including wills and trusts and develops a plan to mitigate or avoid estate taxes.

Estate Planning. Estate planning is a legal roadmap that tells judges and heirs exactly how your assets and children should be taken care of after you die.

Estate Tax. An estate tax is a tax placed on the transfer of property after death. It is also called an inheritance tax or a death tax.

Family Plan. A family plan is a will-based plan for those who may not have many assets but who would go through probate. A family plan can be used to ensure that small children are taken care of and that health care directives are followed.

Fiduciary. A fiduciary is one of the various appointed roles that carry a duty of care and loyalty. Examples of fiduciaries are usually the trustee, and generally the other roles such as a power of attorney or guardianship.

Florida Homestead. A Florida Homestead is the residential real estate in Florida that is owned and is identified as the main residence of a Florida resident.

Florida Formal Probate Administration. Generally, Florida Formal Probate Administration is a full petition that will be filed complete with a formal “notice to creditors,” and a full process that will take time to allow all assets to be inventoried prior to a final court order.

Florida Probate Process. Florida Probate Process is a court process in which it is necessary to retitle your estate assets into the names of your beneficiaries. The Florida last will is essentially an instruction sheet for the probate court and must be deemed “admissible” to be allowed to be so.

Florida Resident. A Florida resident is someone who lives in Florida for at least six months and one day of the calendar year.

Florida Revocable Living Trust. A Florida Revocable Living Trust is a contract that passes on your Florida estate assets privately.

Florida Summary Probate Administration. Florida Summary Probate Administration is an option for cases with less than a minimum amount of approximately $75,000 of total assets in an estate or where the decedent has been dead for at least 2 years. This process usually takes less time and is less expensive to file than probate.

Florida Trust Administration. Florida Trust Administration occurs when your designated Florida trustee privately conducts and distributes your assets according to specific terms in the trust.

Guardianship. Guardianship is when an individual – a guardian – is appointed by a judge to have legal custody of a person until the age of majority, or, to have legal custody of a person who cannot manage daily living essentials.

Health Care Surrogate. A Health Care Surrogate is an individual who you designate to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and cannot do so.

Heir. An heir is a person legally entitled to receive part of your estate, either by designation in a Florida will, a Florida Revocable Living Trust, or in Florida state intestacy law if there are no estate documents.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act law was enacted in 1996 to promote medical privacy and allow for portability of health insurance.

Holographic Will. A holographic will is a handwritten will signed only by the testator, but it is not notarized. A holographic will is not recognized as valid in Florida.

Immediate Power of Attorney. An Immediate Power of Attorney allows your designate agent to immediately begin handling your financial affairs.  There are really only two different Power of Attorney in Florida: A Durable Power of Attorney and a Limited Power of Attorney. All are immediate.

Intestate. Intestate describes a person who dies without leaving a will.

Irrevocable Living Trust. An Irrevocable Living Trust permanently and irrevocably gives away your assets during your lifetime.

Jointly Held Property with Right of Survivorship. Jointly held property is property held with the rights of survivorship, either between husband and wife, or, between persons who are not spouses.

Kids’ Protection Plan. A Kids Protection Plan is a legal document created to ensure that your children are never taken from your home by state authorities. You plan and determine who will be selected to raise your children in the manner that you choose. This can also be referred to as a Preneed Guardian.

Liabilities. Liabilities are financial debts or amounts that you owe to third parties.

Living Trust. A Living Trust is a legal document that you create during your lifetime that spells out your exact desires regarding your assets, dependents and heirs. A living trust allows your successor trustee/executor to carry out your instructions at your death, or if you are unable to manage your financial, health care and legal affairs due to incapacity.

Oral Will.  An oral will is a will that is made verbally with witnesses present. Oral wills are not recognized as valid in Florida.

Per Stirpes. Per stirpes refers to how your estate will be divided when a beneficiary predeceases a testator. Per stirpes is a designation in an estate that determines whether assets are then split equally among family members, or that a beneficiary’s share of the inheritance will go to his or her living descendants.

Per Capita. Per capita refers to the specific and named distribution of assets in a will when a beneficiary dies before a testator. Per capita distributions can only go to beneficiaries specifically named in an estate.

Personal Representative. A personal representative is the individual, or trust company, or bank that you designate in your will who is charged with overseeing completion of the required probate process. A personal representative is the same as a personal executor or an administrator. The personal representative’s role begins in probate and includes ensuring the payment of debts, taxes, and the distribution of assets to your heirs or other beneficiaries.

Personal Executor. A personal executor is the same as a personal representative or an administrator. It refers to the party named in a will to handle an estate and affairs throughout the probate process.

Self-Proving Will. A Florida self-proving will is signed by the testator and two witnesses in the presence of a notary public, who notarizes (authenticates) the signatures on a will. A self-proving will is one that is readily accepted and entered into probate because it includes an affidavit  that satisfies the requirements under Florida statutes.

Settlor. A settlor is a person who establishes a Florida revocable living trust

Testate. Testate is a term that describes a person who died with a valid will in place.

Testator. A testator is the person who created a will describing his or her wishes regarding their estate and assets after they die.

Trust. A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustor gives a trustee the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, a beneficiary. A trust is a process for transferring wealth and protecting assets conveniently, privately, and usually without court involvement. A trust provides a clear plan for how your assets and children should be handled after you die. A trust can be created to allow beneficiaries to gain access to assets more quickly than in a will, which must go through the probate process.

Trustee. A trustee is an individual appointed by a settlor to act as the legal owner of the trust assets. A trustee is responsible for handling any of the assets held in trust, tax filings for the trust, and distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust.

Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. The Uniform Transfer to Minors Act Law was enacted in 1995 to allow you to leave assets to a minor by appointing a custodian. In most states, the minor receives the assets at legal age.

Wealth Plan. A wealth plan analyzes how each of your assets is titled or designated. A wealth plan is appropriate for busy families who want the least amount of personal effort and the greatest amount of convenience and care.

Will. A will is a legal document created by you, the testator, designating your final wishes on how your assets should be handled after you die, and can name a guardian to care for minor children. A will must be signed by a testator in front of two witnesses and notarized to authenticate that it’s valid in Florida.

Business Litigation

Acceptance. The party to whom the offer is made has the authority and the ability to accept it and can indeed accept it and agree to it.

Attorney’s Fees. Compensation for legal services provided by a lawyer or law firm.

Breach of Contract.  Failing to perform any part of a contract – written or oral – without a valid legal excuse.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty. One party breaches a duty of trust to another in a contract.

Breach of a Note. A break in agreed-upon conditions. For example, someone lends a person money,  want its back and the person who received the loan does not pay.

Business Litigation. Business litigation is civil legal actions involving business disputes brought by plaintiffs and defendants, or families, or individuals, or small business, or commercial businesses.

Business Torts. A cause of action when a person or company brings civil litigation against another person or company, generally arising out of some type of business relationship action outside of a contract. Examples of business torts include fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

Common Business Torts. Breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, fraudulent/negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with a business/contractual relationship, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion and defamation.

Consideration. Must be of value to the parties and is exchanged for the performance or promise of performance by the other party.

Contract. An exchange of legally enforceable promises between two or more people or entities, which includes 1) an offer, 2) an acceptance, and 3) a consideration.

Damages. Court-ordered money paid to a plaintiff by a defendant.

Derivative Lawsuit. A lawsuit is brought in the name of a limited liability company or a corporation.

Florida Elective Share Law Under Florida Law. A person cannot intentionally disinherit a spouse unless the spouse agrees to receive a lesser amount from the estate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Fraud. A civil cause of action in which someone knowingly makes a false statement to get someone else to rely upon that statement, usually for financial gain or benefit.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation. One party lies to another party to get them to enter into a contract.

Holographic Will. Handwritten and signed only by the testator, these wills are not recognized as valid in Florida.

Injunctive Relief. A court order for a defendant to stop a specific act or behavior. Also known as an injunction.

Intentional Tort. Any number of a series of causes of action in a civil suit. This means that the defendant has done something in a deliberate manner to cause harm to the plaintiff.

Investment Losses and Securities Fraud. Disputes over financial losses by plaintiffs or defendants regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission or wealth management misappropriations.

Misappropriation. To personally acquire a trade secret by illegal means or to publish a trade secret while being aware that the information was acquired through improper means or under circumstances where there was a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use.

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets. The loss of protection of business trade secrets.

Negligent Misrepresentation. One party makes false statements to close a deal.

Nuncupative Will. Another term for an oral will.

Offer. An explicit proposal to contract, which accepted, completes the contract and binds both the person who made the offer and the person accepting the offer to terms of the contract.

Oral Will. Made verbally in the presence of witnesses, often by terminally ill individuals when a written will is not possible. An oral will is not recognized as valid in Florida.

Quantum Meruit. A reasonable sum of money to be paid for services rendered or work done when the amount due is not specified in a legally enforceable contract.

Real Estate Litigation. Actions to resolve property or real estate contract disputes.

Rescission. An equitable remedy that allows a contractual party to cancel the contract. It is the unwinding of a contract.

Shareholder and Partnership Litigation. A subset of business litigation that involves the owners of different types of companies. A shareholder is a partner or owner of a corporation.

Strict Liability Tort. Is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault. The claimant needs only to prove that the tort occurred and that the defendant was responsible. This includes product liability or extremely dangerous activities like storing hazardous waste or the use of explosives.

Tort. A civil action that occurs and can be committed intentionally or unintentionally and can cause physical or emotional or financial or other harm to another party.

Tortious Interference with a Business Relationship. When a person intentionally harms someone else’s contractual or business relationships with a third party.

Tortious Interference with a Contractual Relationship. A civil case of action where a valid contract existed between the plaintiff and a third party, and the defendant was aware of that contract. The defendant then took actions intended to induce the third party to breach the contract, causing the plaintiff some type of damage.

Trade Secret. Secret information that offers a competitive business advantage to its owner by virtue of being unknown to competitors. Must be secret, confer a competitive advantage to its owner, and be subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

Trade Secret Law. Protects and prohibits embezzlement or misappropriation of trade secrets and provides certain remedies for businesses and individuals.

Unjust Enrichment. Occurs when Party A bestows a benefit to Party B without the proper restitution required by law.

Trust Litigation

Accounting Action. The legal request from a lawyer through the courts for  answers about a trust.

Beneficiary. The individuals or entities specifically named in the trust document to receive a trust’s property and assets.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty. When a trustee fails to comply with his or her fiduciary duties.

Fiduciary. Another word for trustee.

Fiduciary Duty. The trustee’s responsibility to supply accounting to the beneficiaries.

Fraudulent Inducement. When someone is persuaded to enter into a contract based on false information.

Lack of Capacity. Involves the legal competence of a person to enter into a valid contract or agreement. The person must have the ability to make sound decisions.

Grantor. The trust creator.

Principal. Another term for beneficiary.

Trust. A legal arrangement created to hold property and assets for another party or parties who are called beneficiaries.

Tortious Interference with a Testamentary Expectancy. A tort or a wrongful act that causes harm to another person, such as economic harm, and allows for compensatory and punitive damages.

Trust Litigation. Legal disputes between plaintiffs, defendants, and non-parties, in legal actions involving trust contests, trustees, beneficiaries, heirs, guardians, and trust companies.

Trustee. A person who manages assets for a third party. This includes debts, taxes,  accounting,  settlements with creditors, and the distribution of  assets.

Undue Influence. Influence by which a person is induced to act otherwise than their own free will, or without attention to the consequences. For example, a person persuades someone to change their will.

Probate Litigation

Beneficiary. A person or entity designated in the will to receive money or other assets from the decedent’s estate.

Duress. When an individual exerts influence over a person to influence his or her actions.

Estate. Possessions that hold worth, including investments, savings,  property, real estate and other assets.

Estate Litigation. Takes place when an interested party makes a claim or raises a legal dispute during the probate process. For example, a person files a petition to revoke the probate or a petition to remove the personal representative. The person who files might believe something improper has taken place.

Estate Planning. The formal planning, management, and protection of assets while a person is alive, providing for heirs in the future.

Florida Probate Code. Provides a certain sets of rules that have to be followed inside the context of probate litigation.

Lack of Capacity. Involves the legal competence of a person to enter into a valid contract or agreement. The person must have the ability to make sound decisions.

Notice of Administration. A formal document served by the personal representative that alerts all interested parties that a decedent’s will is being probated before a court. It includes the name of the decedent, the estate’s case number, where the proceedings are taking place, and provides a deadline for contesting the will.

Personal Representative. The person approved by a court to carry out the probate procedure.

Probate. The process of administering a deceased person’s estate.

Probate Litigation. Another term for estate litigation.

Self-Proving Will. The testator and the witnesses must sign the will in the presence of a notary public, and the notary will then notarize the signatures on the will.

Undue Influence. Involves a person taking advantage of a position of power over another person. This inequity in power can result with the subordinate person being unable to exercise independent thinking.

Employment Litigation

At-Will Employment. An employer may fire an employee at any time, for any reason.

Employment Litigation. Legal disputes involving employment issues between employers and employees.

Misclassification. When an employer improperly classifies a non-exempt employee as an exempt employee.

Non-Compete Agreement. A contract between an employer and an employee to protect intellectual property, proprietary products or services, and to prevent competition in a clearly outlined legal document.

Right to Work. Employees cannot be forced to join a union to work at a particular job.

Personal Injury Protection Litigation

Personal Injury Protection (PIP).  A component of auto insurance that covers medical expenses,  and in some cases lost wages, regardless of who is at fault in an accident.  Florida drivers are required to buy PIP.

No-Fault Insurance. Another term for PIP.

Personal Injury Protection Litigation. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Litigation is any legal action taken by a medical provider to try to be repaid by an insurance company for medical care that was provided to a person who was in a vehicular accident.

Mediation

Mediation. Occurs when two disputing parties decide to use an impartial, non-plaintiff, non-defendant, trained, neutral legal mediator to settle their legal differences outside of a courtroom.

Mediator. A neutral third party who does not represent any of the parties and has no outside knowledge of the issue before them.

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