The Navigator


A Word from Attorney Kathleen Good

Avoiding Probate Delays
The typical probate case usually lasts about three to six months from the initial filing to the close of the case. Why do some cases take more than six months and sometimes even years?
Keep Estate Planning Documents in Order
One of the most common delays relate to disputes about the estate, from challenges based on heirs or beneficiaries of the estate to one or more Wills drafted throughout their lifetime.
Any probate dispute related to the admission of a Last Will and Testament or who the proper heirs to the estate are will take time to resolve with the court. Often, these issues will require briefs or memoranda to be filed with the court so that the judge can be made aware of the details of the dispute. In addition, a court hearing may be necessary before a judge will hear the arguments of each party to the dispute. Once the disputes are resolved, the probate case must still remain open to ensure all creditor claims are handled, assets are in the estate, and the distribution is completed appropriately.
Confirm Asset Beneficiaries
Assets held by another institution, such as a bank account that is only in the Decedent’s name, the Personal Representative of the estate and their attorney must contact the institution and go through their process for accessing the assets. Sometimes banks will only communicate by mail or may require a third party authorization to discuss the account with the attorney representing the estate. While in one case this may not cause much delay, there may be a case where the decedent had several bank accounts all with different banks. This will take longer because each bank has to be contacted and their processes for transferring the account balances to the estate often vary.
Another estate asset that may delay the probate process is a home or other real property that is being sold in the probate matter. In some cases, the property will be transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs and they will sell the property after the probate matter is concluded. In other scenarios, the property is sold while the probate matter is ongoing. This could be for a number of reasons such as the property is being sold to pay the debt obligations of the Decedent or there is a dispute over who should get the house.
If you have questions about a probate matter, or would like to ensure your documents and assets are in order, please contact Slonim Law.
We are happy to schedule a time with you.

Staff Spotlight: Kristi Worthington

Hello, my name is Kristi! I have been an employee of the firm for the past 4 years helping in whatever department I can. Many of our clients have probably spoken to me at some point in their case! Up until recently, I called Florida home. After six years and too much sun and sand, not to mention hurricanes, my family and I moved back to Western Pennsylvania to be closer to our family. When I am not working you can find me chasing around my 7 month old daughter or perfecting my new found passion for wood fired pizza.

Estate Planning Documents Explained

When I first arrived at Slonim Law I knew absolutely nothing about Estate Planning. I knew wills existed but I had no idea about the seriousness of them or how incredibly useful everything included in the Estate Planning bundle is. I’m here now to explain, in laymen’s terms, what each document is and what it does.
-Last Will and Testament – This is the one everyone knows about. This allows you to express your wants and needs after passing. For example, burial instructions and how to distribute your estate.
-Durable Power of Attorney – This is also commonly known. This document lets you appoint someone to make decisions for you in legal or financial matters. You specify what power you’d like someone to have. This one does not terminate if you become mentally incapacitated. It is effective immediately after execution.
-Health Care Surrogate- this document allows you to choose who to authorize to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to.
-Living Will – This helps you state your wishes for end-of-life medical care. For example, if you want DNR (do not resuscitate) measures in place. This is also sometimes called an advanced healthcare directive.
-Pre-Need Guardianship- a PNG lets you select who you would like to take care of you incase you are ever in need of a legal guardian.
When it comes to Estate Planning it is easy to see how things can get confusing. I definitely can now understand the need for an Estate Planning Attorney. Here at Slonim Law all you have to do is set up your appointment with me and then we will take the reins. We are all here to help make this an easy process for you. We hear time and time again how necessary these documents are, so hopefully this breakdown helps you to understand which ones will best fit your needs! Talk to you soon.
-Barbara – Office Coordinator
Pictured: Barbara and her Great Grandmother who just turned 102!
Who May Serve as a Guardian?
Any adult resident of Florida, related or unrelated to the potential ward, can serve as a guardian. Certain relatives of the ward who do not live in Florida also may serve as guardian.
However, people who have been convicted of a felony or who are incapable of carrying out the duties of a guardian cannot be appointed.
Individuals who are professional or public guardians can serve as guardian. Additionally, an institution such as a nonprofit corporation can be appointed guardian, but a bank trust department may act as guardian only of the property.
If the incapacitated person has a written declaration of pre-need guardian, the court shall appoint that guardian, as long as he/she/it is qualified, unless the court determines appointing such guardian is contrary to the best interests of the ward.
Why should you know this?
You never know when you will find yourself in a situation where you may need to be appointed a loved one’s guardian. It is also always good practice to have your affairs in order. A Pre-Need Guardianship will make the process a lot smoother if anything were to ever occur.
Call us now to learn more!

A Little About Jon Lack

Jon Lack has been helping clients with their real estate contracts, transactions and closings for over 20 years. He has extensive knowledge about property rights, finance and all areas of real estate law. He is here to help you with residential home sales transactions and commercial property sales transactions within the state of Florida.
Jon is an attorney who will advise, assist and advocate for you through all real estate transactions and contracts. He will review every detail of your transaction or contract, providing personal oversight and advice. He will answer all your questions and explain each detail of your transaction.
You can be assured your transaction will be handled professionally and personally by Jon Lack himself. He takes pride in keeping his business, WaterView Title, a family run one and ensures the happiness of yours with every meeting.

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A Haiku, by Your Favorite Literary Law Firm
No one is alone
Plans for life’s end are a must
Do not bite the dust!

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