News

Yoshimi Smith’s Upcoming Speaking Engagement

Yoshimi is scheduled to speak on Trusts and Divorce at the New York University 78th Annual Institute on Federal Taxation in New York, NY in October, 2018 and in San Diego, CA in November, 2018.

 

Super Lawyers 2018

The firm is proud to announce the inclusion of Amy B. Beller (Estate and Trust Litigation) and Yoshimi O. Smith (Estate Planning & Probate) in the 2018 edition of Super Lawyers.

Click here to read about the Super Lawyers list and selection process.

 

Article Published in ActionLine – Amy Beller

Specific Considerations In Trust And Estate Mediations

Amy B. Beller had an article published in the Winter edition of ActionLine (Vol. 39, Winter 2017-2018), a Florida Bar publication, entitled “Specific Considerations In Trust And Estate Mediations.”

The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section’s ActionLine is a quarterly publication containing the latest news on Florida law of concern.

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Super Lawyers 2017

The firm is proud to announce the inclusion of Amy B. Beller (Estate and Trust Litigation) and Yoshimi O. Smith (Estate Planning & Probate) in the 2017 edition of Super Lawyers:

Click here to read about the Super Lawyers list and selection process.

Super Lawyers 2016

The firm is proud to announce the inclusion of Amy B. Beller (Estate and Trust Litigation) and Yoshimi O. Smith (Estate Planning & Probate) in the 2016 edition of Super Lawyers:

Click here to read about the Super Lawyers list and selection process.

Super Lawyers 2015

The firm is proud to announce the inclusion of Amy B. Beller (Estate and Trust Litigation) and Yoshimi O. Smith (Estate Planning & Probate) in the 2015 edition of Super Lawyers:

Click here to read about the Super Lawyers list and selection process.

ACTEC

Congratulations to Amy B. Beller who has been named a Fellow of the College for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel is a national organization of approximately 2,600 lawyers elected to membership by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trust and estate counselors.

Its members work to teach those who aspire to enter the field and to improve and reform laws, procedure and standards while working with their peers and other professional organizations.

About ACTEC

Click here for Amy Beller’s profile.

Beller Smith on Winning Side of Fourth DCA Decision

Probate litigator Amy B. Beller was on the winning side of Wilson v. Wilson, — So.3d — (Fla. 4th DCA 2014), 2014 WL 2101226, a high-profile case that involved an issue of first impression in Florida: whether or not the ashes of a decedent are considered “property.” Affirming, the Fourth District Court of Appeal answered no.

At the trial level, the mother and father agreed to have their twenty-three-year-old son cremated, but disagreed about where to bury the ashes. The father petitioned the court to declare the ashes of his son “property” under F.S. § 731.201(32) and partitioned under the Florida Probate Code, F.S. § 733.814. For religious and personal reasons, the mother opposed having the ashes divided. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court ultimately found that the ashes were not “property” subject to partition, and denied the father’s petition.

On appeal, the Court affirmed the trial court’s holding that the ashes are not property under F.S. § 731.201(32). The Court cited commentary by Sir William Blackstone in 1753 concerning how remains of a decedent have been treated over time. The Court followed with citations to Florida case law which establish that there are no property rights in the remains of a decedent, and that the right of a personal representative or others to the remains is limited to a right of possession for purposes of burial, sepulture or other disposition.

Although the Court correctly noted that there is no Florida precedent regarding application of the Florida Probate Code’s partition statute to cremated remains, the Court adhered to Florida precedent in declaring that the decedent’s remains are not “property,” and expressly adopted the following words of Judge Warner in Cohen v. Guardianship of Cohen, 896 So. 2d 950, 955 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005):

It is a sorrowful matter to have relatives disputing in court over the remains of the deceased. In this case in particular, there is no solution that will bring peace to all parties. We express our sympathies to both sides in their loss, which must be magnified by these proceedings. Cases such as this require the most sensitive exercise of the equitable powers of the trial courts. We are confident that the experienced trial judge exercised his power with due regard for the serious and emotional issues presented.

The Court suggested that if any change in the law is desired, it would be best left to the legislature.