Daniel McGowan has an extensive Florida and Ohio probate practice. Probate is the process by which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the heirs of the estate, after the payment of creditors.
Attorney McGowan can handle all probate administration matters, from small estates with a single bank account, to complex estates with business interests and assets in multiple jurisdictions. Mr. McGowan also handles probate administrations where the probate estate itself is the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit, such as a wrongful death case.
Daniel McGowan also litigates a large number of probate disputes every year, such as will contests, reformation actions, surcharge and breach against personal representatives, beneficiary representation, and other challenges to the administration of a probate estate. The combination of estate planning, probate administration and probate litigation under one roof allows us to deliver a superior result for his clients.
In some probate estates, there will also be issues regarding a trust established by the decedent (usually a revocable trust). Other estates will also include issues surrounding a guardianship that was in existence during the life of the decedent. Daniel McGowan has experience handling the many moving parts that can take place under these circumstances. It is not uncommon for there to be litigation or disputes in the probate administration, a trust case, and a guardianship case.
The probate process is straightforward for most simple and uncontested probate estates, and can last for many years if there is litigation. The personal representative has extensive responsibilities to administer the estate fairly for the benefit of the beneficiaries. We have administered summary administrations with a bank account only, for example, in as little as a week. We have been involved in estate administrations for over a decade as well, when there has been litigation. In some situations, the litigation starts before the person is deceased. For example, there might be guardianship litigation that starts the family litigation, when allegations of theft of assets is made.
Once the person does pass away, the litigation over the probate estate will begin, and can often include a challenge to the will, and a challenge to a trust, when changes were made very late in the person’s life. There also could be creditor claims - for example claims by persons about promises that may have been made. If assets were retitled, such as the pay on death designations of a bank account or the beneficiary designation of a life insurance policy, there will be litigation over those as well. Finally, if the estate is large enough to be subject to estate taxes, there could be tax litigation with the Internal Revenue Service.