What are our Areas of Practice?

  • How the Collaborative Process Works

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Once the parties make the decision to use the collaborative process for their divorce or other family law matter and have hired their respective attorneys, all of the parties execute an agreement, usually referred to as a “Participation Agreement,” which governs the entire collaborative process. In this agreement, the parties and attorneys agree to suspend any court intervention, and that the attorneys must withdraw from representation if the process is terminated, which can occur either by the decision of one or both of the parties, or by one of the parties initiating substantive litigation proceedings.

    Next, experts such as mental health professionals, child specialists, and financial experts join the process, as applicable, to assist in the gathering and exchange of information, which must be fully disclosed by both parties.

    The parties and all professionals then schedule and attend group meetings to address the issues of the case and reach a resolution that is mutually beneficial to all parties.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Collaborative Team

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A “collaborative team” refers to the group of professionals that work together throughout the collaborative process to advance the goals of the parties by gathering information and by problem-solving. A typical collaborative team consists of a mental health professional that acts as a neutral facilitator, a neutral financial professional, and two attorneys to advocate for each client. Rather than each party hiring separate financial and mental health experts that spend hours seeking to discredit opposing experts in traditional litigation, the parties agree on joint neutral professionals who can focus on the parties’ goals and interests, while reducing the overall time and costs.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Attorney Representation

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In Collaborative Law cases, each client hires their own attorney to advocate solely for that client, and an attorney does not owe a duty to, or have any type of attorney-client relationship with the other party of the collaborative process. However, unlike traditional litigation, all communications related to the collaborative process are confidential, and cannot be used in any future court proceeding.

    The defining feature of collaborative divorce that makes it unique from other forms of alternative dispute resolution is that the attorneys hired must agree to withdraw from representation if the parties do not reach an agreement and must proceed with traditional litigation. The rationale behind this requirement is to enhance the commitment of all participants to the collaborative process by reducing impulsive threats of litigation. In the majority of traditional family law cases, parties reach a settlement after several months or years of litigating, so the collaborative process utilizes the withdrawal rule to remove the specter of litigation, and maintain focus on achieving a full and fair settlement for the parties.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Joint/Neutral Financial Professional

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A joint (or sometimes referred to as “neutral”) financial expert is selected and agreed upon by both parties to facilitate financial information gathering and problem-solving among the parties and other collaborative team members. Other responsibilities of a joint financial expert may include drafting an inventory of any assets and liabilities, assisting clients with creating budgets, assisting the collaborative lawyers in understanding which assets are separate or marital property, assisting with property valuations, and developing options for settlement of any financial matters.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Joint/Neutral Mental Health Professional

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A joint (or sometimes referred to as “neutral”) mental health professional is selected and agreed upon by both parties to facilitate communication between the parties and other collaborative team members. Other responsibilities of a joint mental health professional include assisting the clients and collaborative team members in using effective communication skills, and assisting clients in coordinating parenting plans and improving their future co-parenting relationship.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Group Meetings

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    The collaborative process involves a series of group meetings wherein the entire collaborative team gathers to address and discuss various issues, depending on the facts of the particular case, in the hopes of eventually reaching a final settlement agreement. The first collaborative meeting usually involves an overview of the collaborative process so that all parties are fully informed of how the process is going to work, execution of the Participation Agreement, identifying each party’s goals, interests, and concerns, and resolving any temporary issues, if necessary.

    Additional meetings are utilized to resolve all other matters within your case, which may include parenting plans, equitable distribution of property, alimony, and child support payments, and any other matters as necessary.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Parenting Plan

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    During the collaborative process, the neutral mental health professional will assist the parties in developing a parenting plan if there are minor children involved. A parenting plan is a document that states essential information for successful co-parenting, such as a timesharing schedule, transportation, vacations, and communication with the minor children. While this may seem like a simple task to accomplish, many parents cannot initially agree on a parenting plan and require the assistance of other professionals. The collaborative process has the inherent benefit of having a qualified neutral mental health professional on the collaborative team who to facilitate the development of a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children when disputes arise. Even after the collaborative process has successfully concluded, the neutral mental health professional often stays involved with the parents in order to assist in resolving future disputes, which eliminates the need to resort to expensive and lengthy court proceedings in the future.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Marital Settlement Agreement

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A Marital Settlement Agreement is a final agreement between parties who have dissolved their marriage and usually includes provisions that divide property, set amounts for alimony and child support, and determines all issues related to any minor children, usually through the attachment of an agreed upon parenting plan. The Marital Settlement Agreement is the ultimate goal that each collaborative case strives to achieve through every team meeting. One distinction of collaborative divorce is that the collaborative process focuses more on arriving at a settlement that is suitable to both parties, rather than the parties signing an agreement to simply end lengthy and costly litigation.

    If you need assistance with collaborative divorces, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas. All attorneys at Greene & Greene have attended both the basic and advanced training for collaborative law. Attorney Lee Greene is a member and past director of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Attorneys Billy Greene and Megan Greene are members of the Next Generation Divorce collaborative practice group.

  • Probate Administration

    Probate Administration in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas. in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    The term “probate” refers to the court-supervised process of identifying, managing, and distributing certain assets of a deceased person, or “decedent.” Generally, probate administration involves reviewing the Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if any, appointing a personal representative to act as a fiduciary, identifying the probate assets, paying creditors and other fees, such as personal representative fees, and ultimately distributing property to beneficiaries.

    If a decedent has a Last Will and Testament, it will usually designate a person to act as the personal representative for probate administration. However, even if this is the case, that person has no authority to act for the estate until the court enters an order appointing them as personal representative and issues Letters of Administration, which may be conditioned upon the posting of a bond to ensure that the personal representative fulfills his or her duties. In the event that a Last Will and Testament does not exist, or does not name a personal representative, a family member is usually given priority to serve as personal representative. Once a personal representative is appointed, that person has authority to pay creditors, gather probate assets, pay federal and estate taxes, and distribute property to any beneficiaries.

    Because probate administration requires the filing of multiple documents with the court and because a personal representative could potentially be liable to any beneficiaries for mismanagement of the estate, it is recommended that the personal representative seek assistance from an attorney to guide this process.

    If you need assistance with probate (estate) administration, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle probate administration in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Trust Administration

    Trust Administration in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Unlike probate administration, trust administration is not a court-supervised process, but rather refers to a trustee’s management and distribution of trust property according to the terms of the trust agreement for the benefit of the beneficiaries after the settlor (i.e., the person who created the trust) has passed away. Generally, a trustee must fulfill certain responsibilities and fiduciary duties, and depending on the terms of the trust agreement, these powers and duties may include:

    • Gathering and holding trust property
    • Distributing income to beneficiaries of the trust
    • Paying legitimate creditors
    • Making important tax decisions
    • Maintaining records of all transactions
    • Providing accountings to beneficiaries of the trust

    It is important to note that a trustee acts in a fiduciary capacity, and must follow a strict standard of care when performing trust functions. Therefore, it is highly recommended that any trustee or successor trustee seek out the assistance of qualified professionals to assist them in their duties.

    If you need assistance with trust administration, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle trust administration in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Last Will and Testament

    Last Will and Testament in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A Last Will and Testament is a written document that distributes certain assets to named beneficiaries upon your death, and designates a personal representative to assist in this distribution after satisfying any debts or expenses. A will can also serve to designate a guardian for any minor children or any property bequeathed to such minor children. Certain assets are not governed by a will if they already have specified beneficiaries, such as payable on death accounts, transfer on death accounts, joint and survivorship accounts, jointly owned property, life estates, pension/retirement plans, or insurance beneficiaries.

    A will is a necessary document to ensure that you have control over your assets upon death. Should you die without a will (or “intestate”), the laws of the state where you reside determine the distribution of your assets. Additionally, each state differs in its requirements for a valid will. Therefore, simply using a form from the internet, which may save you money initially, can lead to unexpected financial and emotional hardship in the future if the will is later determined to be invalid.

    If you need assistance with or have concerns about a Last Will and Testament, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan Last Will and Testament documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Trusts

    Trusts in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A trust is a document that establishes how assets are managed during one’s lifetime and how remaining assets are distributed after death. The most common type of trust is a revocable trust, which means that the trust can be modified or terminated by a competent grantor during his or her lifetime. The grantor can either serve as the trustee, or a person, bank, or trust company can be appointed, and is responsible for the management and investment of the trust assets, which can usually be withdrawn by the grantor at any time, depending on the terms of the trust agreement. In the event of the grantor’s death, the trustee must pay all claims and taxes, and then distribute the trust assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the agreement without going through the process of probate.

    One of the main advantages of creating a trust is to avoid probate administration upon death, as the trustee has immediate authority, as well as a duty, to manage and distribute trust assets, and does not need to be appointed or approved by a court. Sometimes it is necessary to have a “pour over” will that transfers any probate assets to the trust after death to completely avoid the probate process.

    If you need assistance with or have concerns about trusts, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan trust documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Power of Attorney

    Power of Attorney in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Generally, a Power of Attorney is a written document executed by a “principal” that designates a person to act as an attorney-in-fact, or an “agent,” and is authorized to perform certain actions on behalf of the principal during the principal’s life. In the event of the principal’s death, a Power of Attorney becomes invalid. The most common type of Powers of Attorney is the Durable Power of Attorney, which remains legally valid if the principal becomes incapacitated as long as it was executed in accordance with Florida law.

    If you need assistance with a Power of Attorney, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan Power of Attorney documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Health Care Surrogate

    Health Care Surrogate in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A Health Care Surrogate Designation is a document in which you designate an individual to have access to your health care records, make medical decisions, and provide informed consent on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make such decisions for yourself. A Health Care Surrogate Designation is an essential estate planning document, and is usually executed in conjunction with a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will.

    If you need assistance with a Health Care Surrogate, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan Health Care Surrogate documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Preneed Guardian

    Preneed Guardian in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In the event that a person becomes incapacitated, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian to oversee personal and financial affairs of that person. A preneed guardian designation allows a competent adult to appoint a guardian of their choosing prior to becoming incapacitated. Similar to a will, a written declaration appointing a preneed guardian must be signed in the presence of two attesting witnesses. A preneed guardian designation creates a presumption that the person designated therein shall serve as guardian unless such person is found to be unqualified by a court to do so. People typically do not anticipate becoming incapacitated, and therefore, this important designation is not often used, leading to potential future litigation over who should serve as guardian.

    If you need assistance with a Preneed Guardian, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan Preneed Guardian documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Living Will

    Living Will in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A living will is a health care advance directive that declares a person’s desires for medical care in the event of terminal illness or in the event that one cannot make such decisions for him or herself, such as permanent unconsciousness. It is a “living” will because it goes into effect during your lifetime, and not at death. Although a living will is commonly used when a person is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, it is also used as part of the estate planning process so that people who may be making medical decisions for you in the future are aware of your desires if you are unable to express them later.

    If you need assistance with a Living Will, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely plan Living Will documents for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Transfer/Payable on Death Designations

    Transfer/Payable on Death Designations in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    POD Designations:

    Florida allows bank accounts to be designated as payable-on-death, or a “POD” designation. This allows a beneficiary to automatically take ownership of the account upon presenting proof of the account holder’s death without going through probate court proceedings. A POD designation can be used for any deposit account, including checking accounts, savings accounts, or certificates of deposit. A designated beneficiary will have no rights in the account until the event of the account holder’s death, which is different from owing an account as joint tenants, as a joint tenant of an account can use and control such account during the life of the other account holder. If a particular account is owned jointly and has a POD designation, upon the death of one of the joint account holders, Florida law allows the account to pass to the surviving account holder, and not to the beneficiary. In other words, any POD designation does not take effect unless all account owners have passed away. In the event there is more than one beneficiary, the beneficiaries hold equal shares of the account.

    TOD Designations:

    A transfer-on-death designation, or a “TOD” designation, is very similar to a POD designation, except it is used for securities, such as individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds, and brokerage or trading accounts. Like a POD designation, securities can be registered so that a beneficiary is designated to take ownership upon the death of the owner without going through probate.

    If you need assistance or have concerns with transfer-on-death or payable-on-death accounts, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with these types of accounts when administering an estate in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Pet Trusts

    Pet Trusts in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and surrounding West Florida areas.

    When thinking about estate planning for the future, people often overlook the care and support of their pets in the event of their death. However, there are several ways in which a person can address the long term needs of their pets, including the use of a last will and testament or living trust to designate a specific dollar amount and instructions for the care of a pet. Florida law specifically allows for a pet to be a beneficiary of a trust. Pet trusts can be as simple as designating money for a pet that survives you, or as complex as leaving detailed instructions for care, alternate caregivers, and a system of checks and balances that would ensure your pet is being taken care of properly, where one person is in charge of the funds, and another is in charge of the care of the pet.

    When creating a pet trust, you should give careful consideration to who the pet caregiver will be once in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. You should ensure that the person you designate is willing and able to accept this responsibility, or in the alternative, delegate authority to such designated person to select a future home for the pet in the event that such person is unable to care for the pet.

    The trustee and the pet caregiver are generally the same person. In addition to the trustee, however, Florida law specifically allows for the nomination of a trust protector that has authority to enforce the trust if the trustee is not performing their duties.

    If you have questions or concerns regarding pet trusts, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with pet trusts within the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Pre-Divorce Planning

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Consulting with your divorce lawyer and receiving advice about the divorce process prior to filing is almost always beneficial. Areas of complexity exist that are not apparent to most parties prior to being a litigant in the divorce process.

    These areas include the timing of business valuations, protection of nonmarital assets, the ramifications of commingling, the imputation of income to a non-earning or under-earning spouse, children considerations, and the like.

    If it appears that divorce is likely to be in your future, you may well wish to properly position yourself rather than just being reactive in the litigation. My job is to introduce you to that process.

    Part of that planning effort is to identify such existing documentation as may support your position. Where documentation is lacking or non-existent, pre-divorce planning may allow you the opportunity to properly create and document that evidence. Cases are usually won by the party that is best prepared from an evidentiary standpoint.

    If you need assistance with a pre-divorce planning, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle divorce and preparation for divorce for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Dissolution of Marriage

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Our practice is largely concentrated in the representation of clients that have significant net worth and substantial income, individually or through their spouse in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay area. As a result, we have a great deal of experience in handling complex divorce litigation.

    Over the years, we’ve developed excellent associations with the top financial experts within the Tampa Bay area. That means that we have both the ability to obtain the best experts for you and the knowledge to handle those experts in a manner that is cost efficient. You also have the benefit that the other side’s expert will know of us and is highly likely to have a reasonably positive impression of your attorney.

    If you need assistance with a dissolution of marriage action, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle dissolution of marriage actions for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Paternity Actions

    Paternity Actions in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A unique set of rights and responsibilities arises when one becomes a parent, and establishing paternity has important legal ramifications. A paternity action can be brought by either a father or mother who are not married to establish the paternity of a child, as well as the rights and obligations of each party concerning that child. Although every paternity action is unique and factually complex, paternity actions are usually brought to establish a timesharing plan for the child (formerly referred to as child custody), as well as child support between the parties. Paternity actions can also be brought to determine the identity of the biological father if this is in dispute. Once the Court determines the identity of the legal father, either by DNA evidence or by voluntary acknowledgement, certain rights and obligations attach to that title.

    In most circumstances, the legal father has the right to timesharing with the child, and paternity actions resolve disputes over any timesharing schedule. Paternity actions also involve disputes over child support as parents have a legal duty to support their children, and the state of Florida requires the use of statutory child support guidelines to ensure that children are adequately provided for, especially when one parent has more financial means than the other.

    If you need assistance with a paternity action, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle paternity actions, child support disputes, and custody disputes for clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Temporary Support

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Clients are often worried about how they will support themselves during the pendency of a divorce or paternity action, which can be a very lengthy process depending on the situation. This is achieved by requesting temporary support from the Court. You may have heard temporary support orders referred to by lawyers as “pendente lite,” which is a Latin term meaning “pending the litigation.” The Court may award temporary child support as well as temporary spousal support (commonly referred to as alimony). An award of child or spousal support is based on the need of one spouse and the ability to pay of the other spouse. The Court can also determine other temporary matters such as temporary timesharing (custody) arrangements, possession of the marital home, and ordering a spouse not to sell valuable assets.

    If you need assistance with temporary child or spousal support, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in handling temporary support issues in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Discovery Process

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In every lawsuit, the parties engage in a required exchange of information and documents so that the Court, as well as the parties, can determine the merits of the case and any defenses. This is called “discovery.” It is no different with family law and divorce matters, and information gathering and sharing is crucial to prepare for settlement negotiations, or for trial, if necessary. In fact, it is so crucial that the Florida Rules of Family Law Procedure require both parties to serve a laundry list of documents on the other party automatically, without the other party even requesting it. This is aptly called “mandatory disclosure.” Additionally, parties involved in family law and divorce matters are required to serve a Financial Affidavit on the other party, which will state all of a spouse’s assets, liabilities, income, expenses, etc. for the purpose of determining child support, spousal support (alimony), and equitable distribution (the division of martial assets between the parties).

    In addition to mandatory disclosure and the Financial Affidavit, parties can serve other types of discovery requests, such as a request for production of documents, a request for admissions, and interrogatories. A request for production of documents is just that, a request for specific documents other than those required by the mandatory disclosure. A request for admissions is a request that the other party admit or deny certain statements. Interrogatories are a list of questions that must be answered by the other party, and there are standard family law interrogatories that are used to gather the most pertinent information relating to family law and divorce matters.

    Lastly, in almost all family law and divorce matters, it is very likely that the deposition of each party will be taken by the other party’s attorney, which consists of the attorney asking questions under oath in the presence of a court reporter who will transcribe it.

    Family law discovery can be very extensive depending on the circumstances, and in many cases, requires the use of a forensic accountant. Nonetheless, the discovery process is necessary in all contested divorces or other family law matters to determine the key aspects of the case.

    If you need assistance with divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Child Custody and Timesharing

    Child Custody and Timesharing in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Child custody, or "timesharing," as the Florida Statutes now refer to it, is often one of the most important issues to parents who are going through a divorce, or in the case of unmarried parents, a paternity action. The Court will determine child custody based on the child’s best interest. Several factors weigh in on this determination, including fitness as a parent, historical parental roles, stability and safety of the home, and the desire that the child build and keep a relationship with both parents. In the great majority of cases, there will be shared parental responsibility where both parents remain meaningfully involved with the child. In a very small percentage of cases, a Court will award sole parental responsibility because one parent has acted in a way that manifests a lack of capability to act in the best interest of the child.

    Florida law is largely protective of children. Florida law recognizes that, under shared parental responsibility, both parents have rights and responsibilities with their children and share in major decision-making. Neither parent has the right, and hopefully not the opportunity, to use the children as a weapon or for revenge purposes.

    If at all possible, you and the other parent should determine what happens with the children, timesharing and otherwise. If not, the Court will decide. Should the Court have to decide, a Judge can appoint an evaluator to advise the Court on children matters. These evaluators are sensitive to the potential and actual harm children encounter when their parents divorce, as are our Judges. Children may not go to depositions and will not be in a courtroom, absent extremely compelling reasons.

    Our firm has positive relationships within the mental health community to both meet your children’s counseling needs and, where necessary, to obtain expert testimony on disputed matters.

    We will work with you in the best interest of your children, whether it involves custodial matters, child support, parenting plans, timesharing, or geographic considerations. To learn more about parenting plans and mental health professionals, please visit our informative topic panel to the left.

    If you need assistance with child custody, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in child custody disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Parenting Plan

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    During family law matters and divorce involving minor children, the parties will develop a parenting plan, which is a document that states essential information for successful co-parenting, such as a timesharing schedule, transportation, vacations, and communication with the minor children. While this may seem like a simple task to accomplish, many parents cannot initially agree on a parenting plan and require the assistance of other professionals, such as mental health professionals, to facilitate the development of a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child. If the parties cannot agree on a parenting plan, the Court will make a determination that it believes is in the best interest of the child.

    Our firm will work closely with you to develop an agreeable parenting plan. Moreover, we have established long-term relationships with mental health professionals in the community that have assisted in numerous complex cases involving children, and can help you develop a parenting plan that is suitable to both parties.

    If you need assistance with a parenting plan, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Mental Health Professionals

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    To say that divorce or separation of parents can be very difficult on minor children is an understatement. In highly contested divorce or paternity cases with minor children, it is often our practice to involve a mental health professional to act as a parenting coordinator for the family. A parenting coordinator can be extremely helpful in assisting the family as a whole resolve children’s issues that inevitably arise during this tough time. Our firm has positive relationships with several of the top mental health professionals in the community who are deeply committed to the well-being of children and families as a whole.

    If you need assistance with divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Child Support

    Child Support in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    If parents are divorced or separate if unmarried, Florida statutorily imposes guidelines for child support payments based upon the parents’ combined actual or imputed income, the amount of overnights a child spends with each parent, and the specific needs of a child. Under certain conditions, the Court can vary from these guidelines. Child support normally ends when your child reaches the age of 18, or graduates high school, whichever is later, absent mental or physical dependency. Florida law does not incorporate the expenses of college into a child support determination, although the parents can agree to bind themselves to this expense. Child support remains modifiable throughout the eligibility of the child, based upon a substantial change of circumstance.

    Our firm has significant experience in handling the determination of child support, as well as modification of a child support award based on changes in income or other substantial changes.

    If you need assistance with child support, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in child support disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Alimony

    Alimony (Spousal Support) in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In Florida, several types of alimony are available if you are the potentially receiving spouse and must be considered if you are the potential payor during divorce. They are temporary, transitional, bridge the gap, lump sum, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony. The Court can also order no alimony at all, or a combination of the various types of alimony listed. Alimony determinations are largely driven by the need of one spouse, and the ability to pay by the other, as well as the length of marriage and the respective earnings of each party.

    The Court may consider other various factors when determining alimony, such as the parties’ earning ability, age, health, education, and standard of living during the marriage. The Court may even impute income to one or both spouses if he or she is unemployed or underemployed. The determination of alimony is not an exact science, and the Court will consider the various factors as a whole and apply them to each specific situation without following a bright line rule.

    If you need assistance with alimony (also referred to as spousal support), divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in alimony disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Equitable Distribution

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Equitable Distribution refers to the division of marital assets between spouses as a result of a divorce. First, the Court identifies the marital vs. non-marital property of each party. If your spouse does not agree that your property is non-marital, it is your burden to prove that fact. Second, the Court must identify and value the marital property. Marital property includes all of the assets and liabilities that are not characterized as non-marital.

    Under Florida law, there is a presumption that marital property should be distributed equally, no matter who generated the income or made the investment that created the asset or debt. However, there are situations where the Court will grant unequal distribution based on a finding that it is not equitable or fair to equally divide marital assets. Unequal distribution cases are relatively rare and require very specific evidence and/or fact patterns to justify the unequal distribution. Our firm has significant experience in this complex arena.

    If you need assistance with equitable distribution, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in equitable distribution disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    During a divorce, determining which assets and liabilities are marital and non-marital is an essential step for the Court to equitably distribute assets and liabilities among the parties. Only marital property is divided, and non-marital (or separate) property is kept by the owner spouse. Generally, assets and liabilities created or incurred during the marriage are marital property unless they are specifically established to as non-marital assets and liabilities. There are several other factors to take into consideration when determining marital vs. non-marital property, such as commingling of funds, gifts, appreciation of separate property, inheritances, and the existence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that might dictate the division of property.

    There are numerous intricacies in determining marital vs. non-martial property, and the attorneys at Greene & Greene are experienced in handling division of property for even the most complex situations.

    If you need assistance with division of marital property, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in marital property disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Business Valuations

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    If you or your spouse own a business, determining its value for equitable distribution purposes can be a difficult and tedious, yet necessary task. Often, if parties to a divorce have a business interest, it is the main asset, and thus its valuation is extremely important in a divorce. In order to value a business, experts are usually retained to determine the best approach for valuation and to testify at Court about his or her opinion. These experts often review the business’s financial records, assets, liabilities, and take into account other factors such as a business’s reputation or good will.

    Once the business is valued, the Court usually does not split interest in the business between the two parties of the divorce, as the goal is to have a clean break after the divorce. Rather, the Court will usually award interest to one party, and then offset that award by giving the other party additional assets.

    If you need assistance with business valuations, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in valuation disputes during divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Attorney's Fees

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    When it comes to determining who pays for the cost of divorce, Florida law considers need and ability to pay. What this really means is that the cost of your divorce will be paid from either the income of both spouses, from the income of the greater earning spouse where there is significant disparity, or from marital or non-marital assets. It is important to remember that wherever the costs are paid, that cost affects both parties. Otherwise stated, neither party should waste money fighting about unnecessary or unproductive issues during a divorce. Regardless of who cuts the check, both parties pay.

    If you need assistance with divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Mediation

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Simply put, mediation works. Should you be in a traditional representation case, the Court will require mediation, with very rare exceptions, before you can have any meaningful hearings. The Court will also require mediation prior to the trial itself. Why? Because it works.

    Having been extensively involved as a mediator over the last two decades in the area of family law himself, attorney Lee Greene is extremely familiar and comfortable with handling mediations. Our firm’s approach to mediation is the same as the approach we take to hearings or trials. It is the old Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.” We will work together to assure that the mediator has a thorough understanding of your case and your objectives. We will have identified, with you, areas of possible compromise and other opportunities to increase the probabilities for settlement.

    With that in mind, it is important to stress that there is no pressure on you to settle matters in the mediation. Rather, we use this as an opportunity to achieve your goals.

    If you need assistance with family law mediation, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in dependency disputes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Modification and Supportive Relationships

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    After your divorce is final, sometimes several years post-divorce, disputes can emerge regarding increases or reductions in alimony and/or child support, custodial changes, parenting plan changes, relocation plans, and modifications of timesharing. The standard for modifying alimony or child support is a substantial change in circumstances, which can be shown by a significant increase or decrease in income (ability to pay), or need. Note that equitable distribution determinations are not modifiable after the divorce is finalized.

    Additionally, when a party receiving alimony enters into a supportive relationship, this is usually grounds for modification or termination of payment of alimony if it can be proven. A supportive relationship exists when the alimony recipient cohabits with someone that is not a family member, and who is financially supporting them. Alimony is intended to provide support for an ex-spouse who was financially dependent on the other during the marriage, and the purpose of this law is to terminate that ongoing spousal support since the ex-spouse is now receiving support elsewhere.

    The attorneys at Greene & Greene have handled several modification actions, and are experienced in assessing your unique situation to determine if a modification action is appropriate for you

    If you need assistance with modification, supportive relationships, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Adoption

    Adoption and Family Law in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Adoption can be very emotional for all parties involved because it always involves severing the ties between a child and his or her birth parent. Different types of adoption exist depending on each person's unique situation. A stepparent adoption involves the adoption of the stepchild and requires either the consent of the birth parent that is terminating the parental rights, or if consent is not given, the court holds a hearing to determine if there is another basis to terminate parental rights, such as abandonment, abuse, or neglect of the child. An agency-facilitated adoption involves one party attempting to adopt a child whose parents have voluntarily terminated parental rights as well as a home study of the prospective adoptive parents. In Florida, adults can also be adopted.

    There are several nuanced procedures involved in adoption and preserving one's parental rights. For example, although there are exceptions, an unmarried biological father must register his paternity with Florida's Putative Father Registry, or he could lose certain parental rights without any notice. Greene & Greene can assist you with complying with the complex procedures involved to ensure that no rights are waived.

    If you need assistance with adoption, child support, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in handling adoption issues in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Dependency

    Dependency and Family Law in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Dependency courts in Florida deal with children at risk of abandonment, abuse, or neglect, which, in certain circumstances, can overlap with an ongoing family law case in civil court. Typically, dependency court involves several hearings and the establishment of a case plans to determine whether a child can be unified with their parent. Less frequently, a parent or other caregiver such as a grandparent, may file a private action to request that one or both parent's rights be terminated due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect of the child.

    If you need assistance with dependency, child support, divorce, paternity suits, or other family law matters, please contact our office, as our attorneys have extensive experience in handling dependency issues in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Filing a Guardianship

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Guardianship actions in Florida must be filed where the alleged incapacitated person, or proposed Ward, resides or is currently located. Any adult person can file for a guardianship in Florida. The primary requirements for guardianship incapacity petitions are as follows: the petition must (1) be verified; (2) state certain identifying information regarding both the Petitioner and the alleged incapacitated person; (3) identify the primary language spoken by the alleged incapacitated person, if known; (4) allege specific factual information concerning the alleged incapacity; (5) state the alleged incapacitated person’s known physicians; (6) list the rights the alleged incapacitated person is incapable of exercising; and (7) list contact information for the next of kin, if known.

    Once a petition to determine incapacity is filed, the Court will appoint an attorney for the alleged incapacitated person, to defend their rights as necessary. The alleged incapacitated person also has the right to retain private counsel.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Guardian Qualifications

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Any competent adult resident of Florida is qualified to serve as a guardian of a ward. Nonresident guardians, however, are limited to competent adults who are either (1) related by legal consanguinity to the ward, (2) a legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the ward, (3) a spouse, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew of the ward, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person, or (4) the spouse of a person otherwise qualified. Persons convicted of a felony or found to have neglected, abused or abandoned a child, or who are incapable to serve due to illness or incapacity, or otherwise maintain a conflict of interest, are specifically excluded from serving as guardian.

    If there are competing petitions for appointment, the Court will give preference to applicants who (1) are related by blood or marriage to the ward, (2) have educational and business experiences relevant to guardianships, (3) have the capacity to manage the financial resources involved, and (4) have the ability to meet the unique needs of the case. While not controlling, the Courts will also consider the expressed wishes of the Ward.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Emergency Temporary Guardian

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In some circumstances, a guardianship is filed because there is ongoing financial and/or physical exploitation of an incapacitated person. Sadly, we far too often see opportunistic third parties exploit elderly persons for financial gain. In other situations, elderly or incapacitated persons are abandoned or neglected without access to proper health care or safety measures. In these instances, there is a need to protect the Ward immediately, rather than awaiting the formal guardianship hearing to be scheduled.

    When these immediate concerns arise, the petitioning party, either subsequent to or contemporaneously with the filing of a formal guardianship, may also petition the court for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian. If the Court warrants the matter as a potential emergency based off the written pleading, the Court will typically schedule an emergency hearing within a week, or even a few days. At the emergency hearing, interested persons have the ability to introduce evidence to the Court that would support the appointment of an emergency guardian on a temporary basis. The appointment of a temporary guardian does not negate the necessity to have a final hearing on the formal guardianship.

    If appointed, the authority of the temporary emergency guardian expires after 90 days or whenever a formal guardian is appointed, whichever occurs first. The authority of the emergency temporary guardian may be extended for an additional 90 days upon a showing that the emergency situation still exists.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Examining Committee

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Upon the filing of a petition to determine incapacity, the Court will appoint an examining committee consisting of three members. One member must be a psychiatrist or other physician. The remaining members consist of either a psychologist, gerontologist, or other physician; and a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, licensed social worker, or person with an advanced degree in gerontology from an accredited institution.

    Each committee member meets with the alleged incapacitated person for purposes of performing a physical and mental health examination, along with a functional assessment. The examining committee members may also have access to the alleged incapacitated person’s pertinent medical records. Upon their review and examination, each examining committee member must submit a report, which in part determines what rights, if any, the alleged incapacitated person is incapable of exercising. The report will also recommend whether the alleged incapacitated person retain all rights, be subject to limited guardianship, or subject to a plenary guardianship.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Incapacity Hearing

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Upon the appointment of an examining committee, the Court will set a date upon which the formal guardianship petition can be heard. The adjudicatory hearing must be set no more than 14 days after the filing of the examining committee reports unless good cause is shown. The alleged incapacitated person must attend the hearing, unless their presence is waived by counsel or other good cause is shown. This hearing is an evidentiary hearing, allowing the petitioner, the proposed Ward, and any other interested person to present evidence regarding the alleged incapacity. The partial or total (plenary) incapacity of the proposed Ward must be established by clear and convincing evidence. If the Court determines the proposed Ward to be partly or wholly incapacitated, the hearing then shifts to determining the appointment of the guardian. The appointment hearing can occur either the same day or subsequent to the incapacity hearing. The appointment hearing is utilized to determine whether appointment of a guardian is appropriate, and if so, who should be appointed.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Personal Rights Involved

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    The rights that may be removed from a person during a guardianship, but are not delegated to a guardian, include the right: (1) to marry; (2) to vote; (3) to personally apply for government benefits; (4) to have a driver’s license; (5) to travel; and (6) to seek or retain gainful employment.

    The rights that may be removed from a person during a guardianship, and that may be delegated to a guardian, include the right: (1) to contract; (2) to sue and defend lawsuits; (3) to apply for government benefits; (4) to manage property or to make any gift or disposition of property; (5) to determine his or her residence; (6) to consent to medical and mental health treatment; and (7) to make decisions about his or her social environment or other social aspects of the Ward’s life.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Less Restrictive Alternatives

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A Court determination that an individual is incapacitated does not automatically mean that the Court will appoint the person a guardian. If a proposed Ward is determined to be incapacitated, the Court then shifts to the appointment stage of the guardianship proceedings. During this “appointment hearing”, the Court will consider whether there are any “less restrictive alternatives” to the imposition of a formal guardian. These less restrictive alternatives usually come in the form of advanced directives entitled Durable Power of Attorney and/or Declaration of Health Care Surrogate. The existence of an advanced directive supports the argument that a guardian should not be appointed, as third-party individuals are already in place to meet the presumed needs of the incapacitated person. While advanced directives are a defense to a formal guardianship as being a less restrictive alternative, their mere existence are by no means conclusive on the Court, as the named power of attorney and/or health care surrogate are often either unwilling or incapable of serving; or even worse, abuse or mismanagement of their roles might be the reason a guardianship is necessary.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Abuse of Power of Attorney

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    While the existence of a Power of Attorney is a defense to a formal guardianship, the abuse or mismanagement of the Power of Attorney is often the reason a guardianship is necessary. Far too often, the individual empowered as an incapacitated person’s attorney-in-fact is either unfit to serve, or even worse, is using their role as Power of Attorney to procure personal financial gain. It is also quite common that an unscrupulous family member, or any other person who might have access to the incapacitated adult, unduly influences the Ward into executing a Power of Attorney without any real understanding of the legal nature or effect of the document they are purportedly executing. Legal documents deriving from such undue influence are not valid, but it is typically up to the remaining family members to formally challenge the instrument before the Court.

    While the guardianship litigation is pending, an interested person must file a verified statement stating that they have a good faith belief that said Power of Attorney (or Trust document) is invalid; and must state a reasonable factual basis for the good faith belief. If the verified statement is accepted by the Court, the Power of Attorney (or Trust document) will not be deemed to be a sufficient alternative to the appointment of a guardian.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Guardian Appointment

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    If the Court determines the Ward to be either partly or wholly incapacitated, and no reasonable alternative exists, the Court will then focus its intention on the appointment of a suitable guardian. Every Petition for Appointment of Guardian must contain information on the following: (1) verified signature by the petitioner; (2) certain identifying information concerning both the petitioner and the alleged incapacitated person; (3) the nature of the Ward’s incapacity; (4) extent of guardianship desired, either limited or plenary; (5) next of kin; (6) name and information regarding the proposed guardian; (7) nature and value of property subject to the guardianship; and (8) reasons why the proposed guardian should be appointed. A petitioner may name someone other than themselves as the proposed guardian.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Professional Guardians

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Professional guardians are a class of professional fiduciaries who routinely serve as guardians for individual Wards. Professional guardians are typically well-experienced in meeting the financial, physical and mental health responsibilities associated with caring for another individual. Moreover, professional guardians are held to a heightened standard of care and must register with certain government oversight entities.

    Serving as a guardian can be a full-time job. Geographic separation and/or hostile family relations can often make serving as guardian untenable for some family members. In these situations, the appointment of a professional guardian can assist with providing adequate care and limiting unnecessary conflict.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Guardian's Duties

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A guardian is a fiduciary who owes certain duties to the Ward and other interested persons as determined by the Court. The guardian of an incapacitated person may exercise only those rights that have been removed by the Ward and specifically delegated to the guardian. A guardian’s many duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. The filing of initial and annual guardianship reports consistent with Chapter 744;
    2. Implementation of the Guardianship Plan;
    3. Protecting and preserving the property of the Ward, investing it prudently, and accounting for it faithfully;
    4. Upon termination of the Guardianship, administering the Guardianship Estate in accordance with law; and
    5. Personally meeting with the Ward to ensure the appropriateness of the Ward’s living situation and that the Ward’s physical and mental needs are being met.

    Anyone applying to be a guardian within the State of Florida should take the time to consult an attorney and to review the various duties and responsibilities associated with serving as a guardian. If a guardian fails to meet their burden of care, both physically and financially, they may be liable to the Ward or other interested third parties.

    If you are considering filing a guardianship, or are otherwise involved in pending guardianship litigation, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely handle guardianships, contested guardianships and guardianship litigation in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Minor Guardianships

    Guardianships for Minors in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Upon the petition a parent, brother, sister, next of kin, or other person interested in the welfare of a minor child, Florida courts may appoint a guardian for a minor child without appointing an examining committee or conducting an adjudicatory hearing. Guardians for minors maintain the same authority as a plenary guardian. Minor guardianships are often necessary in circumstances in which a minor child is party to a lawsuit, or where a minor child is entitled to a large sum of money and cannot otherwise inherit and/or accept said money without the implementation of a minor guardianship or some other vehicle in which to ensure the anticipated funds’ safety.

    If you are considering setting up a minor guardianship, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely assist clients with preparing minor guardianships in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Voluntary Guardianships

    Voluntary Guardianships in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Without an adjudication of incapacity, Florida courts will appoint a limited guardian of the property for a person who, though mentally competent, is incapable of the care, custody and management of his or her estate by reason of age or physical infirmity, and who has voluntarily petitioned for the appointment of a guardian. The petition needs to be accompanied by a certificate of a licensed physician specifying that he or she has examined the petition and that the petitioner is competent to understand the nature of the guardianship and their election to delegate authority to the guardian.

    If you are considering setting up a voluntary guardianship, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely assist clients with preparing voluntary guardianships in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Will Contest

    Will Contests and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A Florida will contest is the filing of a formal objection to the validity of a last will and testament.  The basis for the invalidity may vary, but the common assertion is that the last will and testament being offered to probate does not accurately reflect the true intent of their person making the will, otherwise known as the testator or testatrix.  A Florida will contest is an adversarial proceeding pursuant to Florida Probate Rule 5.025.

    The grounds for invalidating a will include execution formalities, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, mistake, fraud and duress.

    In regards to execution formalities, the initial consideration in determining whether a last will and testament is valid is to inquire whether the will was executed in accordance with Florida law.  Pursuant to Florida Statute § 732.502, all wills must be in writing, signed by the testator or another at the testator’s direction, and the execution of the will must be acknowledged by two attesting witnesses, who sign in the presence of one another.

    The most common grounds for a will contest are undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, or a combination thereof.  These topics are discussed in more detail in their own topic panels within the topic bar on the left.

    Lastly, there are various time limitations associated with filing a will contest.  Prospective beneficiaries, or removed beneficiaries, are often approached by other family members and requested to sign paperwork they do not fully understand.  It is of the utmost importance that potential proponents of a will contest not sign these documents, as they might be waiving their ability to present such a claim.  

    If you are considering a will contest, please contact an attorney immediately to ensure you are not waiving any rights or failing to assert your claims in a timely manner.  Our attorneys routinely deal with these type of estate disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Trust Contest

    Trust Contests and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Quite similar to will contests, a Florida trust contest is the filing of a formal objection to the validity of the trust instrument. The basis for the invalidity may vary, but the common assertion is that the trust instrument does not accurately reflect the true intent of the person making the trust, otherwise known as the grantor.

    The grounds for invalidating a trust are the same as a last will and testament, which includes execution formalities, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, mistake, fraud and duress. The most common grounds for a trust contest are undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, or a combination thereof. These topics are discussed in more detail in their own topic panels within the topic bar on the left.

    The biggest difference between will contests and trust contests is the forum in which the dispute is heard. Will contests are adversarial proceedings advanced within the administration of a pending probate estate; alternatively, a trust contest is an independent action which needs to be pled separately. Due to persons utilizing both wills and trusts within their estate plans, it is quite common for both a will contest and a trust contest to co-exist during a dispute, and often the same judge will be hearing both disputes, however it very important that potential clients know that the actions are separate and must be advanced accordingly.

    Moreover, trust contests are not limited to actions seeking to set aside a trust for incapacity and/or undue influence. Often successor trustees, who are validly appointed, abuse their role or fail to meet their obligations to the beneficiaries pursuant to the trust. This can lead to various different actions which aim to limit the financial damage caused by unscrupulous trustees, recover those damages, and often remove the trustee due to their inappropriate actions.

    Lastly, much like will contests, there are various time limitations associated with filing a trust contest. Prospective beneficiaries, or removed beneficiaries, are often approached by other family members and requested to sign paperwork they do not fully understand. It is of the utmost importance that potential proponents of a trust contest not sign these documents, as they might be waiving their ability to present such a claim.

    If you are considering a trust contest, please contact an attorney immediately to ensure you are not waiving any rights or failing to assert your claims in a timely manner. Our attorneys routinely deal with these type of trust disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty

    Breach of Fiduciary Duty and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    In Florida, trustees and personal representatives (executors) are fiduciaries who owe a duty to a trust or estate, respectively, along with the beneficiaries thereunder. These fiduciaries, whether they are trustees or personal representatives, must maintain the highest duty of care in administering their respective duties.

    The duties the trustee or fiduciary owes to the beneficiaries include the duty of loyalty, the duty of impartiality, the duty to prudently administer the estate, the duty to account, and the duty to act in good faith, among others. While there are various ways a trustee can violate his or her obligations, the basic principal is that a trustee must act within the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries, rather than taking actions which serve merely to benefit the fiduciary.

    Unfortunately, many non-professional trustees (and sometimes even professional trustees) do not fully understand their duties and obligations to the beneficiaries, and even worse, sometimes these trustees abuse their position for individual financial gain. Trustees can violate their duties by failing to account, making improper investments, charging excessive fees, entering into business relationships that constitute self-dealing or otherwise creating a conflict of interest, or even misappropriating trust assets. When these violations occur, it is up to you, the beneficiary, to hold the trustee or personal representative accountable for their actions.

    To prevail on a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, the beneficiary must merely show that: (1) a fiduciary relationship exists, (2) a breach of that duty occurred, and (3) the beneficiary or beneficiaries were damaged by the breach. If successful, there are several remedies available to the beneficiary, which include, but are not limited to, compelling an accounting, surcharging the trustee for excessive fees, recovering trust and/or estate assets, removing the trustee or personal representative from their office, and even receiving a money judgment against the fiduciary for any malfeasance.

    If you have concerns about potential breaches in regards to a trust or estate, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with trust and estate litigation within the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Undue Influence

    Undue Influence and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Undue influence is a cause of action used to challenge the validity of a last will and testament, trust or related testamentary instrument.  Generally, undue influence occurs when a third-person exerts their influence on the person making a will or trust to the extent that the testamentary document reflects the intent of the undue influencer, rather than the testator.

    The susceptibility to undue influence is often greatly heightened in the latter years of one’s life, where certain elder diseases and related infirmities of old age cause the individual to become increasingly depending on third parties.  This dependence can often be manipulated, and taken advantage of, by opportunistic third parties who have their own financial interest in mind.  Quite often, elderly persons with weakened physical and/or cognitive abilities have a desire to please those around them, and the mere mention of drafting a will or trust could lead the elderly adult into executing an instrument they would not have otherwise thought to prepare themselves.

    One of the chief evidentiary issues with undue influence claims is that most all of the inappropriate acts occur in the privacy of the elderly person’s home, when only the undue influencer and the victim are present; and since these contests occur after the victim has passed away, only the undue influencer remains available to testify.  The State of Florida acknowledged this issue by enacting Florida Statute 733.107, which implemented a presumption of undue influence, known as the “Carpenter Presumption” if certain factors are shown.  The three factors that must be shown are that the undue influencer:

    1. maintained a confidential relationship with the testator;
    2. stands to be a substantial beneficiary under the will or trust; and
    3. were active in procuring the will or trust.
    The first two prongs are generally relatively easy to meet.  The “active procurement” prong, however, is where your case will be won or lost.  In determining whether active procurement was present, the Florida Supreme Court listed seven non-exclusive factors that should be considered by trial courts in determining whether active procurement exists.  They include:
    1. presence of the beneficiary at execution of the will or trust;
    2. presence of the beneficiary on occasions where the testator expressed a desire to make a will or trust;
    3. recommendations by the beneficiary of an attorney to draft the will or trust;
    4. knowledge of the contents of the will or trust prior to execution;
    5. giving of instructions from the beneficiary to the drafting attorney;
    6. securing witnesses to the will or trust by the beneficiary; and
    7. safekeeping the will or trust after execution.

    This list is non-exclusive and a claimant need not show all seven factors to prevail.  This is simply  a listing of possible factors considered by the Court, and the existence of any of these factors could lead to the presumption.

    This presumption, however, is a rebuttable one.  Once the presumption is established, the burden shifts to the proponent of the challenged will or trust to prove to the Court that the challenged instrument was not the produce of undue influence.

    If you have concerns about potential undue influence claims, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with these type of estate (probate) and trust disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Lack of Mental Capacity

    Lack of Mental Capacity and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    One of the most common reasons for setting aside a last will and testament, or a trust instrument, is that the person allegedly signing the will or trust lacked the mental capacity to reasonably understand the document they were executing. Being of sound mind is required to execute a will or trust and is simply stated as “testamentary capacity”.

    The requisite “testamentary capacity” needed to execute a will or trust is defined as having the ability to generally understand: (1) the nature and extent of one’s property, (2) the relationship of those who would be the natural objects of the testator’s bounty (heirs), and (3) the practical effect of the will or trust.

    Testamentary capacity of a testator is presumed, therefore the burden to prove a testator lacks capacity falls on the person challenging the will or trust. The evidence needed to support a claim for lack of capacity usually comes in the form of medical records and/or testimony, along with the testimony of those who spent time with the testator near the date of execution.

    Several diseases and related infirmities of old age can lead to diminished capacity, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s-related dementia. Many elderly persons suffer from the onset of early dementia, but learn to mask their disease by depending on others. These elderly persons are highly susceptible to outside influences, especially when these third parties assisting them have ulterior motives.

    Moreover, a person challenging a will or trust need not show full incapacity in order to advance their claim. There mere existence of “diminished capacity”, coupled with an overreaching third party (commonly a family member, nurse or neighbor) who unduly influences the elderly person, may give rise to the will or trust being determined invalid.

    If you have concerns about any capacity issues, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with estate (probate) and trust disputes regarding capacity in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Tortious Interference

    Tortious Interference and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Quite similar to undue influence claims, a cause of action for tortious interference with an expectancy acts as a remedy for a wrongfully or fraudulently removed beneficiary. The primary difference between undue influence claims and tortious interference claims is that the former is an action in equity, while the latter is an action at law.

    Actions in equity, like undue influence claims, seek a judicial declaration from the court. For example, an undue influence action, petitioners are typically seeking a declaration from the court that the subject will or trust is invalid as being the product of undue influence. In contrast, tortious interference claims (action at law) are filed directly against the alleged tortfeasor, or undue influencer, and seek specific money damages.

    While the two actions on their face may appear to be synonymous, they can be used to achieve different purposes and can be more strategically used under certain circumstances. To better illustrate the differing effects between the two causes of action, imagine a scenario in which a wrongfully removed beneficiary challenged a will or trust, but the monies which comprised the will or trust had already been wrongfully distributed by the undue influencer. Under this scenario, a declaration from the court that the will or trust was invalid would be an inadequate remedy for the wrongfully removed beneficiary as no money remains within the subject will or trust. In this situation, a client would be better served by filing an action for tortious interference, demanding a money judgment directly against the tortfeasor (the undue influencer).

    Another key difference is that actions for tortious interference entitle the claimant to a jury, while actions for undue influence do not.

    Lastly, Florida courts have expressed a preference that actions be determined in equity, with the alternative tort only be allowed in circumstances in which no adequate, alternative remedy exists. That being said, there are various circumstances that render an ordinary declaratory action inadequate. It is quite common for claimants to assert causes of action for both undue influence and tortious interference, and wait to elect which option to pursue until such time that additional information can be obtained through discovery.

    If you have questions or concerns regarding potential tortious interference, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with tortious interference claims within the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Transfer/Payable on Death Designations

    Transfer/Payable on Death Designations and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    One of the lesser known estate planning tools is the utilization of transfer-on-death designations, or sometimes called payable-on-death designations. Quite often, elderly adults will place a family member or close friend on their financial accounts as a joint owner or as a transfer-on-death beneficiary. While these steps are usually taken as a convenience to the elderly person to assist with managing their finances, these designations have a drastic effect on the individual’s estate plan.

    Assets jointly owned at a banking institution, or accounts with transfer-on-death designees, pass outside of probate (estate). Therefore, the owner’s last will and testament and/or trust documents will have no bearing on how these assets pass. This fact is commonly misunderstood by the banking customers.

    Moreover, since the establishment of these accounts and transfer-on-death designations take place without the proper formalities of executing a will or trust, and without the presence of a licensed attorney, these setting are often the most ripe for exploitation and undue influence. For an individual with bad intentions, there is no easier setting to take advantage of a confused or dependent elderly adult.

    Potential clients too often believe that these monies are a “lost cause” because they are not part of the administration of the Decedent’s estate or trust, and are typically disbursed to the “beneficiary” or joint owner shortly after the death. This is simply not true. Florida law has evolved to protection the rightful beneficiaries under these precise circumstances. Potential claimants can seek to set aside these improper designations and even obtain money judgments for assets already removed.

    If you have concerns about improper transfer-on-death designations or jointly owned accounts, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with these banking disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Probate Accounting

    Probate Accounting and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    When a personal representative is appointed to administer a probate estate, one of his or her primary duties is to keep the estate beneficiaries reasonably informed about the financial dealings of the estate. This is accomplished at several levels.

    Within 60 days of the issuance of the personal representative’s letters of administration, the personal representative is required to file an estate inventory. The inventory contains a listing of initial estate assets with approximate values of said assets. The inventory also contains certain notices to the beneficiaries as to their rights for additional information regarding how the inventory, and values, were comprised. It is not uncommon for the inventory to be amended once additional information is obtained.

    In addition to the inventory, personal representatives are required to prepare and issue fiduciary accountings to the beneficiaries prior to their discharge and the closure of the estate. Upon request, the court can also order interim accountings, which are most commonly granted for estates that are administered for extended periods of time. These accountings provide opportunities for the beneficiaries to review the financial dealings of the estate, and file objections to the accounting, if necessary.

    It is also important to note that many personal representatives (also known as "executors" in other states) will request that beneficiaries sign waivers to these type of accountings. These waivers are often provided to beneficiaries early in the probate process at a time when the parties are still grieving and less concerned with the legal documents being placed in front of them. It is critical for clients to know the importance and effect of these waivers, as a beneficiary may be waiving the right to challenge certain actions taken by the personal representative without all the necessary facts to make an informed decision.

    If you have questions or concerns regarding any probate estates, inventories or accountings, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with litigated probate estates within the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Trust Accounting

    Trust Accounting and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    One of the most common complaints by trust beneficiaries is that the trustee fails to keep the rest of the beneficiaries reasonably informed regarding trust dealings and administration. This often occurs when a parent trustee passes away, leaving a successor family member in charge who is either unqualified or unwilling to serve as successor trustee, or in the worst circumstances, a family member who uses their appointment to exploit the trust for personal gain. In either event, the primary remedy for beneficiaries is to ask the court to compel an accounting if one has not been voluntary issued, and if malfeasance is present, file an objection to said accounting.

    In Florida, trustees are required to issue accountings at least annually, and must also issue an accounting if they are closing the trust or resigning as trustee. These accountings are required unless waived. Once an accounting is received, beneficiaries may only have six months to challenge the contents of the accounting. If an objection is not filed, the beneficiary may have waived any right to challenge the action of the trustee for the time period referenced in the accounting. Trustees are required to inform beneficiaries of this six month limitation, but these disclosures are often in fine print and on the last page of a voluminous amount of documents.

    In addition to trust accountings, qualified trust beneficiaries are entitled to receive additional information from trustees, which includes the right to review the trust instrument itself, notice of changes in trusteeship, contact information for the trustee, contact information for any attorneys representing the trustee, relevant information about the current assets and liabilities of the trust, and any other information reasonably necessary for the beneficiary to protect their rights.

    If you have questions or concerns regarding any trust accountings, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with litigated trusts within the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Removal of Personal Representative/Trustee

    Removal of Personal Representative and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Under Florida law, a personal representative of an estate may be removed for several different reasons. A personal representative is a fiduciary of the estate, meaning that they have certain duties to administer the estate faithfully and in accordance with the wishes of the decedent. If the personal representative is not acting in accordance with the fiduciary duties required, Florida law has procedures in place to remove that person. The most common reasons for removal of a personal representative are as follows:

    • Physical or mental incapacity.
    • Failing to comply with a court order or to account for the sale of property.
    • Waste or maladministration of the estate.
    • Conviction of a felony.
    • Insolvency.
    • Conflict of interest.
    • Failing to provide a bond or security for any purpose.

    To remove a personal representative, an interested person (meaning a beneficiary or potential beneficiary of an estate) must petition the court to do so based on one of the foregoing reasons.

    If you have concerns about a personal representative, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with estate (probate) and trust disputes regarding personal representatives in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Family Law and Divorce

    Family Law and Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Florida is a no fault state when it comes to divorce. This means if you or your spouse decide to legally end the marriage, it will be ended. How you and your family handle the ending of your marriage impacts not only the present, but also your entire future.

    Divorce is second only to the death of a loved one in its emotional and psychological impact. When not handled properly, divorce can be even worse. Financial pressures, concerns about children, and related complications of divorce exacerbate that impact.

    Our goal is to help you through this difficult time. In so doing, it is our approach to minimize the emotional damage, to maximize the preservation of your marital assets, and to allow you to enjoy financial security following your divorce.

    To achieve that goal, it is necessary to work together to prepare your case for either settlement or trial. Cases are settled because the other side knows that you will be well represented at trial. However, there is no need to deplete your assets and income in avoidable and unnecessary litigation. The overwhelming majority of our cases reach a satisfactory settlement, but we are no strangers to the courtroom and have tried countless divorce and paternity cases.

    For more information regarding your family law or divorce dispute, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by both phone and in person.

  • Probate and Trust Litigation

    Will Contests and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Greene & Greene is your destination for contested matters regarding wills, estates, trusts and similar inheritance disputes. Some of these litigated matters include: will contests, trust contests, undue influence claims, lack of mental capacity claims, beneficiary rights, validity of wills or trusts, abuse of power of attorneys, improper transfer-on-death designations, construing ambiguous wills, spousal share election under the elective share statute, creditor claims, breach of fiduciary duty by the personal representative or trustee, removal of the personal representative or trustee, excessive fiduciary fees, improper accountings and recovery of estate and trust assets, among others. Our firm primarily represents clients within the St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and Sarasota areas, but we are willing to travel elsewhere should the need arise.

    For more information regarding your probate (estate), trust or inheritance dispute, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by both phone and in person. Please keep in mind there are various time limitations relating to these sort of disputes, so do not delay in educating yourself and advancing your rights.

  • Collaborative Divorce

    Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.

    If Collaborative Law is a mystery to you, you are not alone. Collaborative Law is a relatively new model by which attorneys and other professionals act solely as resolution specialists in your family law case. Unlike traditional divorce or paternity cases where the spouses or parents are pitted against each other, Collaborative Law is a team-oriented process that focuses on reaching an agreement satisfactory to all parties, while keeping the best interests of any minor children at the forefront of the team’s focus.

    In practical terms, this means that each spouse or parent retains their own separate attorney that focuses on the specific goals of their client and to counsel each client through the process. Other neutral professionals are hired to facilitate information gathering and problem solving among the clients and other team members.

    The following are just some of the benefits of utilizing the collaborative process over traditional litigation:

    1. You and the other spouse or parent control the process and make any final determinations on your terms, rather than leaving it up to a judge who only hears bits and pieces of your unique situation;
    2. All discussions, negotiations, and documents are kept confidential between all of the collaborative team members, while any filings in court are matters of public record.
    3. Any children are shielded from the adversarial system that necessarily arises in litigation;
    4. Joint experts are hired to keep both parties informed so that they can reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial and seems fair to both sides, rather than spending time and money associated with engaging competing experts.

    While there are several benefits to the collaborative process, Collaborative Law is not suitable for all divorce or other family law cases, and the attorneys at Greene & Greene will take the time to assess your unique situation to determine the best process for you based on their extensive experience handling both traditional family law litigation, as well as collaborative divorces.

    For more information regarding the collaborative process or collaborative divorces, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by both phone and in person, and serve clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

  • Guardianships

    Guardianships and Guardianship Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    Greene & Greene is your destination for guardianships, contested guardianships, guardianship litigation, voluntary guardianships and minor guardianships. Our firm primarily represents clients within the St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and Pinellas County areas, but we are willing to travel elsewhere should the need arise.

    Guardianships are never a fun topic, but the appointment of a guardian is often necessary to protect both the physical and financial well-being of those we love. In many circumstances, family members neglect to prepare for the infirmities of old age and related mental illnesses. The most common culprit, Alzheimer’s-type dementia, is a slowly advancing disease that often goes unnoticed for years. The disease is both difficult to spot, at early stages, and families often are quite understandably in denial regarding the digression of a loved one. In these unfortunate situations, less restrictive alternatives are often no longer an option. What is even further troubling is that these vulnerable adults commonly find themselves as easy targets for unscrupulous third parties who exploit these senior citizens for their own personal financial gain.

    At Greene & Greene, we strongly advise clients to prepare their estate plan to protect themselves from the unknowns of the future. For more information on protective estate planning, please visit the Estate Planning section listed above. Absent such precautionary steps, however, it is important that family members take whatever actions necessary to protect their parents, siblings or similar loved ones. When left with no other viable option, those steps typically involve the filing of a guardianship.

    For more information regarding your guardianship and guardianship litigation needs, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by both phone and in person. Please keep in mind that there are various complexities associated with the filing and/or contested nature of guardianships within the State of Florida, and it is highly recommended that individuals consult an attorney to educate themselves on how best to proceed, with the interest of protecting both themselves and those they care most about.

  • Fiduciary Litigation

    Fiduciary Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.Fiduciary Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County and surrounding West Florida areas.

    A fiduciary relationship arises when an individual is responsible for managing and protecting property for another individual or entity. When an individual acts as a personal representative of an estate, a guardian, a trustee, or holds a power of attorney, they are acting as fiduciaries. A fiduciary relationship involves specific duties, and fiduciaries are held to very high ethical and legal standards in carrying out these duties under Florida law. Such duties include distributing assets of an estate or trust in accordance with a decedent’s wishes, using their authority for the best interest of all interested parties, making sound financial decisions, avoiding conflicts of interest, and acting in good faith at all times.

    A breach of a fiduciary duty occurs when the fiduciary is not acting in the best interest of the principal, which is the person depending on the fiduciary or “agent” to carry out acts as directed or in their best interest. Unfortunately, many fiduciaries do not fully understand their duties and obligations to the principal, and even worse, sometimes abuse their position for individual financial gain. Fiduciaries can violate their duties by failing to account, making improper investments, charging excessive fees, entering into business relationships that constitute self-dealing or otherwise creating a conflict of interest, or even misappropriating trust assets. When these violations occur, it is up to the beneficiaries to hold the fiduciary accountable for their actions.

    To prevail on a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, the beneficiary must merely show that: (1) a fiduciary relationship exists, (2) a breach of that duty occurred, and (3) the beneficiary or beneficiaries were damaged by the breach. If successful, there are several remedies available to the beneficiary, which include, but are not limited to, compelling an accounting, surcharging the trustee for excessive fees, recovering trust and/or estate assets, removing the trustee or personal representative from their office, and even receiving a money judgment against the fiduciary for any malfeasance.

    For more information regarding fiduciary litigation or a breach of fiduciary duty, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by both phone and in person. Please keep in mind there are various time limitations relating to these sort of disputes, so do not delay in educating yourself and advancing your rights.

  • Estate Planning and Administration

    Estate Planning and Administration in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.

    All too often, people find themselves in a crisis or life-threatening situation and either hurrying to gather important estate planning documents, or really regretting not doing so sooner. It is important to be prepared and execute estate planning documents well in advance to avoid having the state determine how your assets are distributed. Almost every individual has a strong opinion of the disposition of his or her assets upon death, and these desires should be put into writing in advance.

    Estate Planning can range from a simple process to a very complicated process with complex tax implications. Greene & Greene can assist in any estate planning needs, including assisting clients in determining which estate planning documents are appropriate for each client’s unique situation, such as a Last Will and Testament, various types of Trusts, a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Surrogate, a Preneed Guardian, a Living Will, a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement, and Transfer-on-Death/Payable-on-Death Designations.

    When a loved one has passed away, Greene & Greene is experienced in handling both probate (estate) administration, which usually requires the involvement of the court, and trust administration, so that assets can be distributed according to the estate planning documents, if any. Disputes may arise during the administration process, and Greene & Greene is skilled at handling these types of disputes should they arise. For questions regarding wills, trusts, and similar inheritance disputes, please visit our section on Probate and Trust Litigation.

    For more information regarding your estate planning and probate or trust administration needs, please visit our informative topic panel to the left, or our FAQ section listed above, and please schedule any consultation as needed. We schedule consultations by phone and in person.


Greene & Greene, Attorneys at Law, is your destination for Family Law, Collaborative Divorce, Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation, Probate Administration, Estate Planning, Guardianship Litigation and Guardianship Administration, and serves clients in and around St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Hillsborough and Pinellas County.