St. Petersburg lawyer Jay Fleece handles Litigation

St. Petersburg lawyer: Probate, Trusts, Guardianship and Fiduciary Law

This St. Petersburg Lawyer routinely deals with contested probate and trust litigation matters helping families protect their legacy.

Issues handled by St. Petersburg lawyer Jay Fleece concern the validity of wills and trusts, breach of fiduciary duty, lack of capacity, spousal rights, creditors’ rights and anything related to wills, trusts, and contested guardianships.

Areas of Litigation:

Probate courtProbate litigation encompasses all forms of contested matters arising in a probate. Some of the contested issues in Florida probate law resulting in litigation, include the validity of the decedent’s last will and testament; construing the terms of an ambiguous will; spousal share election under the elective share statute; pretermitted spouse and child issues; excessive fiduciary or attorneys’ fees; creditor claims; breach of fiduciary duty by the personal representative; improper accountings; recovery of estate assets and a plethora of other potential issues involving wills and trusts.

Trusts Litigation Many of the same contested issues in a probate estate also exist in trust matters. The main difference is that an independent civil action needs to be filed in order to invoke the jurisdiction of the court and have summonses issued to the Defendants. As Florida family lawyer St. Petersburgtrust administration is not court-supervised, it is up to the beneficiaries, rather than the probate judge, to make sure the trustee is discharging his duties in accordance with the trust terms and with the law. For the most part, the only way a beneficiary can review what the trustee has done is through the annual accounting which the trustee must provide each qualified beneficiary every year. If the accounting is not provided, the trustee has breached his fiduciary duty to keep beneficiaries informed, which could result in litigation. There are many other fiduciary duties imposed upon a trustee which, if violated, subject the trustee to removal, surcharge or other remedies imposed by the courts. Jay has handled a variety of wills and trust litigation in the courts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida.

Fiduciary Litigation Fiduciary litigation usually involves actions with trustees, personal representatives and agents holding a power of attorney for a principal. A fiduciary is a position of trust held to the highest standard of care. A fiduciary has many duties including the duty of loyalty and a duty of impartiality in the administration of wills. A fiduciary is prohibited from putting his own personal interest ahead of the person to whom he owes a duty. Fiduciary litigation in Florida can also arise in many other contexts including business relationships, partnership relationships and any other manner in which a fiduciary relationship is established.

Guardianship LitigationContested Guardianship
 St. Petersburg lawyer Jay Fleece handles all aspects of contested guardianship litigation in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida. Contested guardianships are those which involve either the establishment of a guardianship or situations where the alleged incapacitated person may not, in fact, be incapacitated, or reasonable alternatives to a guardianship exist. Litigation; many cases are filed to prevent the exploitation or further exploitation of an individual, often a loved one, by someone who has taken over the financial, medical and social affairs of an individual who is incapacitated and unable to resist the undue influence of others. The Order Determining Incapacity may result in the loss of substantial Civil Rights, including the right to vote; to determine one’s own medical treatment; to handle one’s own financial affairs; to make a will, change a will, gift or disposition of property; to determine one’s own residence; and to travel unsupervised, to name but a few. The filing of a guardianship, while unfortunate, is often the only means to stop the financial exploitation and wrest control away from the exploiter, who can be a stranger, but may also be a neighbor, caregiver, friend, or even a family member.

St. Petersburg Lawyer Jay Fleece deals with litigation
In all matters, the client is and remains Legacy Protection Lawyers main concern, as the firm helps to protect the family legacy.  Aspects of litigation such as cost, emotional impact, and timeliness are all important to the client, and this St. Petersburg lawyer strives for an end result which leaves the client feeling that justice was accomplished in an efficient and effective manner. For help or answers to litigation related questions, you can contact St. Petersburg lawyer Jay Fleece at


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