Brian O’Connell Discusses 5 Things Every Estate Owner Should Know About Probate Litigation

Brian O'Connell, Estate Trial Lawyer of West Palm Beach

January 17, 2021

5 Things Every Estate Owner Should Know About Probate Litigation

Brian O’Connell is an Estate Trial Lawyer working in West Palm Beach and partner at O’Connell & Crispin, PLLC. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law, 1979 and specializes in wills, trusts, and estates. Over the years, he has developed a unique understanding of the complex and challenging subject of probate litigation. We asked Brian O’Connell what some things estate owners should understand about probate. Here’s what we learned.


Brian O’Connell Estate Trial Lawyer West Palm Beach on Things Every Estate Owner Should Know About Probate Litigation


When Probate Litigation is Triggered


  • Probate litigation will begin when:
  • The validity of a Will is challenged by an interested party
  • There is no Will and family members cannot agree on who serves as an administrator
  • Disputes over executor fees arise
  • When an interested party does not believe the executor is not delivering adequate information
  • When a surviving spouse makes a claim on a portion of the estate
  • When guardianship disputes arise
  • When a dispute over the appointment of a trustee arises


Some Assets Are Not Subject to Probate

A portion of the assets of the deceased estate owner may be permitted to go to the new owner without the approval of a probate court. These include:


  • Property that is held in joint tenancy such as a home or business
  • Assets a designated person is a beneficiary of such as life insurance proceeds or a retirement account
  • Assets that are held in a living trust


Disposition Without Administration

Probate may be unnecessary if certain expenses are larger than the final value of the property which would otherwise be subject to probate. Final expenses include medical expenses in the last 60 days of the estate owner’s life and funeral expenses.


The Summary Administration Option

An abbreviated form of probate may be possible if more than two years have passed since the death or if the total value of the estate is less than $75,000. Formal probate may be necessary if the estate does not qualify for a summary administration.


When Probate Begins

The proceedings will begin when the executor or other selected party asks to be appointed as a representative of the estate. The proceedings will usually take place in the county where the deceased estate owner lived. Beneficiaries are then given notice in order that they will have the opportunity to object. The court then issues Letters of Administration giving the representative of the estate the authority to settle. If a Will exists, it must be filed and proven valid. The representative of the estate must pay any outstanding debts held against the estate and then the rest is distributed to the remaining beneficiaries.


Brian O’Connell estate trial lawyer Palm Beach explains that estate holders should understand these things before drafting a will or making any momentous decisions. It is for this reason that estate Brian O’Connell recommends consulting with an Estate Trial Lawyer before setting anything in stone that may adversely affect his or her loved ones.