Attorney Colleen Carson Achieves the AV Preeminent Rating

Attorney Colleen Carson

Congratulations to BaskinFleece attorney Colleen Carson for achieving the highest level of Professional Excellence rating from her peers, the AV Preeminent from Martindale-Hubbell. The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings™ have been the gold standard in attorney ratings for more than a century. Attorneys looking to refer a client, as well as individuals researching lawyers for their own legal needs, use these ratings to identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for their legal issue. A Peer Review Rating contributes to the comprehensive view of a lawyer and benefits the entire legal community.

AV Preeminent Peer AwardAV Preeminent®:
The highest peer rating standard. This rating signifies that the lawyer’s reviewed peers rank attorney Colleen Carson at the highest level of professional excellence for her legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.

4 Ways Probate Can Help You

Probate administration laws1. Court Oversight of Personal Representative. Probate is a Court supervised process. The actions of the Personal Representative are reviewed by the Court. The Personal Representative has a duty to act in the best interest of your estate and is accountable to the Court for its actions.

2. Reduced Time for Creditors to File Claims. Under Florida statutes, during probate administration, a creditor is limited to a 3-month time period to file a claim with the Court. If the creditor fails to timely file a claim, then the creditor’s claim is forever barred. For comparison, if there is only a trust administration, a creditor has 2 years to file a claim.

3. Orderly distribution of assets pursuant to terms of Last Will and Testament, or laws of intestacy, if there is no Last Will and Testament. After payment of all claims and expenses of the Estate, the Personal Representative, (we recommend with the help of an attorney), prepares an accounting and plan of distribution which is provided to all beneficiaries. Each beneficiary has the right to object the accounting and plan of distribution. Once the accounting and plan of distribution is approved by all beneficiaries (or the time for objecting has expired), the Personal Representative distributes the remaining assets pursuant to the terms of the Last Will and Testament (or laws of intestacy if there was no Last Will and Testament). Prior to discharging the Personal Representative, the Court ensures all beneficiaries have signed a receipt for distribution.

4. Your Estate, while in probate, is a separate tax entity, which may afford income tax savings. Several of the expenses incurred during the probate process, including funeral and internment arrangements, probate administration expenses, personal representative fees, attorney fees, and CPA fees may be deductible against the income generated by the Estate assets.

Attorney Colleen Carson

Many of the tasks and duties listed above can be overwhelming for a Personal Representative. A qualified attorney can help make that process smoother and less daunting for you. If you need an experienced attorney in trust and probate matters, consider contacting BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Probate and Trust Administration Challenges

Trust Administration
BaskinFleece handles all aspects of probate and trust administration.
Trust administration is that process whereby assets and cash which were funded into a revocable or irrevocable trust during the decedent’s lifetime or “poured into the trust after his or her passing”, are marshaled/gathered and made ready for distribution to the beneficiaries named in the trust. Trust administration also requires the filing of a notice of trust with the probate court and is the process whereby creditors are paid, and after all state and federal tax returns are filed and all creditors and other administrative expenses are paid, the trustee makes a final distribution of the trust assets and cash. The process is similar to Florida probate administration, but there is no circuit judge supervising the administration, nor is a fiduciary bond usually posted, and many times it can be accomplished more efficiently, and thereby cheaper and faster, than a full probate administration.

trusts and ProbateMany 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 trust 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 Estate expenses: The personal representative’s compensation is usually determined in one of five ways: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. Our lawyers have handled a variety of wills and trust litigation in the courts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout Florida.

BaskinFleece lawyer Jay Fleece

Attorney Jay Fleece

BaskinFleece handles cases from the pre-suit stages, including mediation, all the way through trial, both jury and non-jury, and even at the appellate level, if necessary. The main focus of the firm in dealing with all controversies is the client. Cost, emotional impact and timeliness are all important to the client and the firm strives for an end result which leaves the client feeling that justice was accomplished. For help or answers to estate-related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.


This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

Guardianships and Guardianship Administration

probate trusts advantages of each


BaskinFleece handles all aspects of guardianships, including uncontested guardianships and guardianship administration.

Guardianship in general involves the appointment of a Court-supervised guardian, who is sometimes a professional guardian and sometimes a family guardian. A professional guardian must pass a rigorous testing process to become a registered guardian, and all guardians are bonded for 100% of the value of the ward’s liquid assets. A family guardian must pass an eight-hour course. The guardian is a true fiduciary who is delegated the rights over an individual. This delegation may be subsequent to entry of the Order Determining Incapacity and issuance of Letters of Guardianship. A guardianship may be a plenary guardianship, where the court removes all of the enumerated statutory rights of an individual, or a limited guardianship, where only some of the rights are removed.

OldMan-Son12BaskinFleece handles all aspects of contested guardianship litigation in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater,  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.

For help with a elder law and guardianship related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.



5 Reasons to Review Your Estate Planning Today:

  1. Pay-on-death beneficiaries sometimes fail. Due to a change in computer software or a merger, it is possible for a financial institution to lose your pay-on-death beneficiary designations. As such, it is good practice to confirm designations with your financial institution at least once per year.
    estate planning
  2. There may be out-of-date contact information for the individuals named on your advance directives. Further, those individuals, due to a change of circumstance in their own life, may no longer be able to act on your behalf. In such a case, it is important to choose new fiduciaries with the ability to serve.
  3. Your intent may have changed. For example, as your children get older, they may become more viable candidates to act as fiduciaries during your lifetime or upon your passing.
  4. You are forced to locate your documents. It is important that you know where estate planningyour original estate planning documents are held, as well as any copies that have been produced. In an emergency situation, being unable to locate your advance directives could cause a delay in making important health care decisions. Additionally, upon your passing, the inability to locate your estate planning documents could cause a delay in probating your estate.
  5. Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    Attorney Randall D. Baskin

    A change in life situation, such as a change in wealth, relocation, divorce, birth or death, could drastically alter your estate planning. It is important to review your estate planning documents to ensure that they still reflect your wishes in light of any life changes. As your life evolves, so should your estate plan.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.



How Is a Personal Representative Compensated?

Randall D. Baskin

Attorney Randall D. Baskin

Pursuant to Florida Statute § 733.617, a personal representative is entitled to a commission payable from the estate assets, without order of the Court, as compensation for ordinary services. The commission shall be based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate assets and the income earned by the estate during administration. A commission computed on the compensable value of the estate is presumed to be reasonable compensation for a personal representative in formal administration as follows:

1) At a rate of 3 percent for the first $1 million;

2) At a rate of 2.5 percent for all above $1 million and not exceeding $5 million;

3) At the rate of 2 percent for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million;

4) At the rate of 1.5 percent for all above $10 million.

Tampa lawyersIn addition to the previously described commission, a personal representative shall be allowed further compensation as is reasonable for any extraordinary services performed.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

Baskin Fleece Named in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms”

U.S. NewsBaskin Fleece was included in the 2017 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers©. Baskin Fleece received a tier two distinction for the St. Petersburg metro area in the field of trusts and estates litigation. Those honored in the “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.” Selection is based on lawyer and client evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys, and review of additional information provided by law firms. To be eligible, firms must also have a lawyer who is included in the 22nd  edition of The Best Lawyers in America, a list which honors the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the country.

To schedule an appointment with a Baskin Fleece attorney, call (727) 572-4545. For more information about Baskin Fleece, visit