Attorney Jay Fleece Is Featured in 24th Edition of Best Lawyers in America©

Jay Fleece lawyer

Joseph W. “Jay” Fleece, III

St. Petersburg lawyer, Jay Fleece, a partner with Legacy Protection Lawyers, was selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America 2018 in the field of Trusts and Estates Litigation. Best Litigation Lawyer Tampa Bay areaBest Lawyers® is based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. This year, 7.4 million votes were analyzed, resulting in the inclusion of more than 58,000 lawyers in the 24th edition. Lawyers are not required nor allowed to pay a fee to be listed. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

To schedule an appointment with a Jay Fleece, call (727) 471-5868, and click here for more information about Legacy Protection Lawyers.

Best Lawyers: “Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Our methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Best Lawyers employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of the quality of legal services. Our belief has always been that the quality of a peer review survey is directly related to the quality of the voters.”

Elder abuse, Probate estate and litigation

Elder Abuse Laws in St. Petersburg Florida

Historically, Florida has a large elder population most of whom are over the age of 65 and become susceptible to elder abuse.

As many retirees grow older, they suffer from diminished capacity and become susceptible to elder abuse.  Florida has two statutes designed to protect those people at risk. This article is limited to focusing on aging as the cause of susceptibility rather than other disabilities that may affect a person.

Chapter 415 of the Florida Statutes is titled “Adult Protective Services. This statute does not specifically deal with age classifications but protects “vulnerable adults”. A vulnerable adult is defined as “a person 18 years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.”

Chapter 825 of the Florida Statutes is titled “Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Elderly Persons and Disabled Adults”. This statute defines an elderly person as someone 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age or organic brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person’s own care or protection is impaired. This is a criminal statute but Florida Statute 772.11 provides a civil remedy for a violation of Chapter 825.

Both statutes speak of an adult being “impaired”. Chapter 415 tries to further define being “impaired” as when an adult “does not have the ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection” because of the “infirmities of aging. This is a wide-open definition which should not be a high hurdle to overcome.

To continue reading about elder abuse, click this PDF link: Exploitation of the Elderly.

To schedule an appointment with Jay Fleece:  

Phone: 727-471-5868   


estate assets

Estate planning and How Property Passes on Death.

Estate planning:

When someone dies, their property, be it real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, automobiles or whatever that person owns must pass to someone legally entitled to those assets. There are 3 basic ways through proper estate planning that property passes on death. Each way depends on how the particular asset is owned or titled at the time of death.

Probate court1. Probate. If someone owns an asset in his or her own name at the time of death, that asset should pass to the deceased beneficiaries that are specified in his or her will. If the decedent did not have a will, then the property owned by the decedent will pass under the laws of intestacy. In other words, the state of Florida makes a will for the decedent. This doesn’t mean all of the decedent’s property passes to the state but rather to individuals depending on their relationship to the decedent.

Florida statutes 732.102 and 732.103 set forth the statutory scheme for intestate succession. For example, if a man dies without a will but is survived by a spouse and children of that marriage, then the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $60,000.00 of assets and anything over that amount is equally divided between the surviving spouse and the children.

When property passes by the terms of a last will and testament or by intestate succession, the process by which this transfer is accomplished is called probate. Probate is essentially a court-supervised process whereby a decedent’s property is transferred in an orderly fashion to the ones legally entitled to those assets.

Estate planning and A Living Trust2. Trusts. Some people elect to create a revocable “living” trust during their lifetime. Here, the trust assets are typically titled in the name of the trust. The grantor, the one creating the trust, has full power to change, modify and revoke the trust during his or her lifetime. After the death of the grantor, these trusts usually terminate and the disposition of the property held in the trust will be governed by the terms of the trust. These type of trusts typically contain language very similar to language used in a last will and testament, which specifies how and to whom the decedent’s property will pass. A successor trustee named in the trust document would then have the responsibility of effectuating the terms of the trust and to make sure the intended beneficiaries receive what the decedent intended. The administration of the trust is also similar to the probate process but is not subject to court supervision.

Estate assets3. By contractual provisions. Assets subject to contractual provisions pass outside the probate process and the trust process. These assets pass directly to the recipients designated in the contract that governs that asset. The most prevalent type of asset that passes by contract would be a joint bank account. Typically a bank account titled in two or more names will pass to the survivor. Other types of contractual bank accounts include the payable on death account, or the “held in trust for …” account, a Totten trust as these types of accounts are sometimes called. Other forms of contractual arrangements which pass property directly to a named beneficiary include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and annuities.

Why someone should engage in estate planning. While each of these areas is discussed in greater detail in other articles, this basic outline should illustrate how important it is to make sure that you understand how your assets are titled and how they will pass on death. The unintended consequences of improperly titling your assets could have a devastating effect on your estate plan. For those with substantial wealth, estate planning from a tax perspective can save on income and estate taxes.

To schedule an appointment with Jay Fleece:  

Phone: 727-471-5868   


Trust and Trustee

Trustee Responsibilities for an Estate.

Trustee: If the decedent had established what is commonly referred to as a “Revocable Trust”. to work properly, assets must be transferred to it. 

Important: Titles must be changed from an “individual” name to the name of the revocable living trust. Because the name is no longer in the titles, there is no reason for the Florida probate court to be involved. What happens if the Trustee becomes incapacitated or when the person dies? The estate assets in the decedent’s revocable trust are a part of his or her gross estate. – Mainly for the purposes of determining federal estate tax liability.

TrustWhen a Revocable Trust is executed, the Trustee is usually the person who executed the trust.

Married couples are often co-trustees. When one dies or becomes incapacitated, the surviving spouse continues to handle the finances with no other actions required. Many people choose to be their own trustee and continue to manage their affairs for as long as they are able. However, they are ultimately responsible to the beneficiaries for prudent management of the trust assets. Therefore they should also consult with an experienced estate planner and trust attorney.

The Settlor of the trust could appoint another person or financial institution as the Trustee of their revocable trust. If you have been named as a current Trustee or Co-trustee, you may already be acting in that capacity. So you need to be aware of your duties and responsibilities as trustee of the estate.

Trustee and Court ClerkThe Trustee is always required to file a “Notice of Trust” with the clerk of the court. It should be in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of the decedent’s death. The purpose of the notice is to make the decedent’s creditors aware of the of the trust’s existence. They have rights to enforce their claims against the trust assets.

All of the tasks which must be performed by a personal representative, in connection with the administration of a probate estate, must also be performed by the Trustee of a revocable trust. They generally will not need to file the same documents with the clerk of the court. Furthermore, if a probate proceeding is not commenced, the assets comprising the decedent’s revocable trust are subject to a two-year creditor’s claim period, rather than the three-month non-claim period available to a personal representative.

To schedule an appointment with Jay Fleece:  

Phone: 727-471-5868