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What is the Probate Process in Florida?

When an individual passes away, his or her estate may move into what is known as probate. This is a process supervised by the Florida courts in order to identify and gather a deceased person’s assets, and also involves paying any of the decedent’s debts and distributing any assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.

The decedent’s assets are typically used first to pay for probate proceeding costs, then used to pay debts, and then the remainder is distributed to decedent’s beneficiary.

Contact us to learn more about the probate process in Florida with a Boynton Beach probate and trust attorney.

The Two Main Types of Probate Administration

There are two primary types of probate administration in the state of Florida: formal administration and summary administration. Here we will break down the two to make it easier to understand.

1. Formal Administration: An individual’s estate in terms of probate will apply specifically to probate assets. These are assets that the deceased individual owned in his or her name at the time of death.

Some examples of the most common probate assets include:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance policies

Some assets and property will automatically pass to others after the decedent’s death without going through the typical probate process These are known as non-probate assets.

The most common examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Trust property
  • Life estate deeds
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Assets and property owned jointly (with a surviving spouse or relative)

2. Summary Administration: This form of probate administration is shorter and only applies to situations when a decedent has been passed on for more than two years, or if the total value of the decedent’s property is under $75,000.

Learn more about the different types of probate and their processes in Florida here.

Is Probate Necessary?

Probate may be necessary to pass on a decedent’s assets to beneficiaries. Unless the will written by the decedent is admitted to the probate process in court, it would be considered ineffective to pass on ownership of assets to the beneficiaries. Without a will, probate is critical for passing ownership of any assets in the estate to the persons eligible to receive them under Florida law.

It is essential to use the probate process to conclude a decedent’s financial affairs after his or her death unless otherwise specified in the decedent’s estate planning strategies. The administration of probate helps to ensure that any creditors are paid as well.

One of the most common reasons that an individual’s estate will go into probate is because he or she passes away without a valid will. Only in situations where there are no heirs does the state of Florida have any rights to probate assets for an estate with no will.

Who is Involved in the Estate Process?

There are many different individuals who you could interact with over the course of managing an estate in probate.

This includes:

  • The circuit court judge
  • The named executor
  • The clerk of the circuit court
  • The attorney who provides legal advice to the personal representative over the course of the process
  • The individuals filing claims about debts
  • The Internal Revenue Service.

The decedent’s will and other documents associated with his or her estate are typically filed first with the clerk of circuit court, usually for the county in which the decedent lived at the time he or she passed away. This also involves a filing fee. After this point the clerk will assign a file number and keeps a record of all papers associated with this estate.

A Circuit Court Judge will be the one who presides over the proceedings. This judge is responsible for determining the validity of the will or evidence associated with the identities of the decedent’s heirs who would receive the estate.

A personal representative is the individual appointed by a judge to be in charge of managing the estate.

The various responsibilities of such an individual include:

  • Gathering and identifying probate assets
  • Paying any valid claims
  • Filing appropriate tax returns
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Paying expenses associated with administering the estate
  • Conducting a diligent search to identify potential creditors
  • Closing the probate estate

Start the Process with a Boynton Beach Probate and Trust Attorney

Probate can take several weeks or several months depending on the complicated factors involved in a person’s estate. This is why it is a good idea to make plans ahead of time about how to handle your estate if you wish to save your beneficiaries the struggle of having to wait for the probate process.

Visit here to start the probate process with a Boynton Beach probate and trust attorney.

5 Common Small Business Errors

Starting your own business requires creativity, tenacity, and plenty of hard work. Taking the right steps early on can – and will – pay off down the road when your business finally takes off. In the same vein, taking shortcuts now could be seriously detrimental to your business when you hit your first roadblock.

Here are the 5 most common errors.

1. Not Registering for Limited Liability Corporation Protection

5 Common Small Business ErrorsAfter writing dozens of versions of your business plan, meeting with partners, and getting your supply chain in order, filling out even more forms probably isn’t the most appealing idea in the world. Waiting to register as an LLC can seriously impact your business and personal finances, however. Setting your business up as an LLC from the start can help protect your personal assets from lawsuits brought against the company. With a small business lawyer in Florida, it’s easy to register and get LLC status.

2. Partnering with the Wrong People

It’s easy to pick business partners on a whim, especially if friends or family members seem as excited about your idea as you are. But picking your partners is a major decision. Look for people with relevant experience in the industry, as well as those who have the insight that’ll be needed to take your business to the next level. While it may be tempting to choose family members or friends, mixing personal and business relationships can get messy when challenges arise.

3. Winging Your Marketing Plan

Marketing is an overwhelming task for many small business owners. If you’re itching to get your business off the ground as quickly as possible, you might be tempted to try a ton of marketing strategies just to see what works. These expenses can add up quickly and leave you with less money to spend on marketing efforts that actually yield returns. Take the extra time to research effective marketing strategies for your industry and market, and use that data to create a plan. You’ll have to put the time into this exercise eventually, so you might as well do it correctly the first time around.

4. Not Taking Enough Risk

You’ve already taken a significant risk by starting your own business, but don’t let your adventurous spirit end there. Bringing in investment partners, trying new marketing strategies, adding locations, or expanding your product line are changes that might feel too risky for your small business. Just keep in mind that without taking risks, your business will never be able to expand beyond a certain plateau.

5. Not Delegating Enough

As a new business owner, you might be pretty protective of what you’ve built. At the end of the day, however, you can only do so much. If you try to handle everything that your business needs, you’ll reach a point of burnout. Instead, focus on what you bring to the business and how your unique skills can help it grow. Delegate tasks and certain day-to-day responsibilities as much as possible so that you can focus on expanding your company. You should also have specialized experts on your team. Keep a small business lawyer, a banker, and an accountant on your team to avoid making costly mistakes.

Get Your Small Business Up and Running

Are your ready to bring your small business idea to fruition? Let us handle the legal aspects as you figure out how to reach your goals. Call the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, PA today at (561) 734-5552 to learn about what we can do for your business.

For More Information:

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Types of Business Liens



Probate and Trust Litigation: When You Need a Lawyer

Probate and trust litigation occurs when there are issues with a will, including oversight, or there are challenges with some part of a trust, such as the assignment of power of attorney.  When families disagree, a probate and trust attorney can offer objective legal advice, as well as strong advocacy.

Probate and Trust Litigation

Often times, after a loved one dies, families are surprised by the contents of the will.  When this happens, they often wonder if the will is legally valid.  There are several legal grounds for contesting a will.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • The person signing the will was not of sound mind
  • The person signing the will did not have knowledge of the contents of the will or did not approve of what it said
  • The person signing the will was coerced and/or forced to include specifics that were against their wishes
  • The will was improperly executed
  • The will was fraudulent or forged

If you suspect that any of these types of issues exist, you should contact a probate and trust lawyer.

Probate and Trust Litigation: Breach of Fiduciary Duty

When dealing in trusts and wills, certain people have fiduciary duties under Florida law, including:

  • Administrators
  • Agents
  • Guardians
  • Personal representatives
  • Trustees

A fiduciary duty means that one must act in the best interests of another party.  So, for example, a trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries.  A guardian has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of a minor.

A breach of the fiduciary duty occurs when a person with a fiduciary duty to another party instead acts in their own best interests, or the best interests of a third party, which causes financial damage to the person to whom the duty was originally owed.

Probate and Trust Litigation: Power of Attorney Challenges

When someone signs a power of attorney, they are essentially giving another person the power to act on their behalf. Often times, this means giving them power over their finances, health care decisions, and property management.

There are several ways to challenge a power of attorney.  Some of the most common include:

  • When the person giving power of attorney is not of sound mind
  • When the legal procedures required by law were not followed
  • When the person who was given power of attorney, also known as the agent, is abusing their authority

Whether there is a legal challenge to a person’s decision about a power of attorney is almost always a fact-specific issue.  A careful review of the events leading up to the decision, the facts surrounding execution, and the conduct after the agent began exercising their duties, is required.

If You Need a Probate and Trust Litigation Lawyer

If your family is facing a challenge related to a will, a power of attorney, or a trust, contact the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, PA.  We have over 35 years of experience representing families in probate and trust litigation.  Internal familial conflict is always difficult, but our probate and trust lawyers will work with you to make certain your loved one’s wishes are respected and carried out. Contact us today at (561) 734-5552 to schedule an appointment.

Creating a Contract – 4 Things You Need to Know

Running a business is stressful enough without the added headache of writing a contract that, in the event of a lawsuit, will hold up in court. A business contract is a common legal transaction – and the key to creating rock-solid business agreements. However, without the assistance of an expert in business law, your contract can fall flat.

Florida Business AttorneyIf you need assistance in writing or enforcing a contract, contact an experienced Florida business attorney at the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman by calling (561)-734-5552. Our team is dedicated to your success and legal standing.

Let’s start by outlining some of the things you need to know before creating a contract for your business.

#1: What Is a Contract?

A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. It establishes a requirement to do something – such as meeting deadlines or answering phone calls. A contract can be established between two people, businesses, corporations, or a mixture of legal entities.

#2: What Laws Govern Contracts?

While some business regulations are based on federal law, contracts are typically enforced by the laws in the state where the initial agreement was made. This is known as Common Law – an evolving set of laws collected from court decisions over the years. Some contracts, however, are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This federal law controls all contracts that are made solely for the sale of goods.

#3: How Does a Contract Become Legally Enforceable?

According to business law, every contract must have three elements:

  • Offer – The terms of this offer must be definite and expressed clearly by you, the business owner.
  • Acceptance – An expression of the accepting party’s agreement to your offer.
  • Consideration – A legal term for “exchange.” For a contract to be valid, some form of value must pass from one party to another.

#4: What Types of Contracts Exist?

The most common contract forms in business law including:

  • Bilateral – A mutual exchange of promises between parties. Each party must receive a promise and make a promise in return.
  • Unilateral – An exchange in which you, the business owner, request performance rather than a promise from the person accepting your offer. This could include a “reward” that exchanges information for cash.
  • Express Contract – An agreement formed by explicitly written or spoken language. The vast majority of your agreements should be made this way.
  • Implied Contract – An agreement formed by behavior showing an intent to enter an agreement, even if no obvious offer or acceptance has been made.

Contact an Experienced Florida Business Attorney for Representation

Are you interested in creating a contract? Contact an experienced Florida business attorney for assistance. At the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, we take pride in answering your questions, completing paperwork, and ensuring legal requirements are met. With our assistance, you’ll have time to focus on what matters most – your business. Call (561)-734-5552 to schedule a consultation.

5 Business Laws For Employment You Need To Know

Employment law is all about your company’s compliance with the laws that govern how you manage your employees. State and federal business laws stipulate that employees have basic rights that include the right to privacy, the right against discrimination, the right against wrongful termination, and the right to feel safe at the workplace.

Let’s take a look at five essential business laws for employment that you must comply with to stay out of the crosshairs of state and federal officials.

Business Law Related To Your Employees

 If you’re running a small business, you need to be aware of these five regulations that apply to the relationship between you and your employees, including:

  • Compliance With Civil Rights Act of 1964 – If you have 15 or more employees, you must abide by the 1964 law that bars you from discriminating against any prospective employee based on color, race, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Compliance With Fair Labor Standards Act – You must abide by this act, which regulates how many hours per day your employees can work, and mandatory break periods during an eight-hour workday. The act also requires you to pay overtime to your employees when applicable.
  • Compliance With Americans With Disabilities Act – You can’t discriminate against any employee with a qualified disability, which means a physical or psychological impairment that restricts a person from performing daily activities.
  • Compliance With Age Discrimination – If you have 20 or more employees, you can’t favor younger employees over older employees, with ‘older’ defined as employees 40 years or older.
  • Compliance With Family and Medical Leave Act – Your employees are permitted by law to take a three-month leave of absence for medical purposes, which includes the birth of a child. To qualify for this leave, your employees must have worked at least one year and 1,250 work hours prior to taking the leave.Business Laws

These are five of the key business laws related to your employees that you must comply with, but there are other laws involving safety at your workplace that are also important.

Any business that fails to comply with state and federal laws related to employees can face stiff penalties and a loss of reputation in its industry, which can affect profitability. If you’re a business owner, it’s vital that you ensure compliance with all employment laws.

Business Law Is Complicated But Essential 

If you own a business, compliance with all the laws and regulations related to employees and safety is essential to the success of your company. And the problem is that laws related to small businesses change all the time, which means that without the help of an experienced business law attorney, you may not even know that your company is not in compliance.

The Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, PA, has been one of Florida’s elite business lawyers for more than three decades, and is distinguished by its aggressive representation and personal attention to its clients. If you want to ensure that your business is compliant with all state and federal regulations, and you also need a trusted advisor for other issue such as business litigation, please call us today at 561-734-5522 to schedule a consultation.

Additional Reading

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How To Prove Breach of Contract Under Business Law

Business Law Advice: How You Can Avoid the Cost of a Software Licensing Audit

If your business purchases licenses to use any type of software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Windows (or an array of others), then you may find that software audits are an extremely troublesome part of your business law issues.

At the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, we can help with any business law issue you may have. We have years of experience and are able to help. We can answer any questions you may have about a potential software audit and how it can impact your business.

What is a Software Audit and Can a Business Law Attorney in Boynton Beach Help?

Business Law AdviceA software audit usually involves the vendor of the software sending a representative, or another third-party auditor, to your company to review your compliance with the licensing agreements, as well as other obligations. The vendor of the software (or third-party representative) is searching for situations where your company has begun to use unlicensed software, or that is using more than the number of companies that have been authorized. A software audit can be extremely stressful and result in serious business law issues and fees.

Tips for Avoiding a Software Audit and Business Law Problems

There are quite a few companies that have issues with software compliance, and yours may be one of them. After all, the growing complexity, as well as the interconnection of modern software applications have made it extremely hard to remain abreast of compliance obligations.

Another issue is if your business is growing rapidly. Some ways that you can avoid issues if a software audit is done include:

  • Anticipate that the audit is going to occur at some point.
  • Get to know the licensing agreements for the software you are using.
  • Ensure you have a structured program to ensure compliance.
  • Conduct periodic internal software audits to ensure everything is compliant.
  • If you discover issues with compliance, contact your business law attorney prior to making any other moves.
  • If you receive a software audit notice, then contact your business law attorney.

Problems That May Arise with a Software Audit and Why Business Law Issues May Arise

The bad news is, the first indication that your company has a problem with your software licensing compliance is when you receive a notification of an audit. The fact is, depending on the actual terms outlined in the license agreement, the software vendor may be able to start the software audit right away.

However, the real issues begin after the audit is done.

Your company may have to pay high fees and penalties if they are found to be non-compliant, and the vendor may even be able to terminate the license agreement in place. Additional, the vendor may be able to impose even more serious penalties if they are able to prove that the company or the managers intentionally filed in regard to complying with the licensing agreements or that they knowingly used unauthorized software.

If you are facing a software audit or the consequences that occur after this audit, the best thing you can do is contact a business law attorney. They can help reduce the penalties and help you remain compliant.

If you need additional information about software audits or legal assistance, contact the team of Boynton Beach business law attorneys at the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, PA by calling 561-734-5552.

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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Commercial Fraud

Commercial Fraud

Commercial fraud is a legal term that relates to deceptive practices and illegal actions taken by corporate executives in significant positions of power within a company.

Although the wording may differ in each state, commercial fraud generally has several elements, including:

  • The practice of deceit through information that is incorrect, incomplete or intentionally misleading.
  • Deceitful information causes the business being defrauded to make a purchase or give up some valuable asset.
  • There are actual damages or loss as a result of the fraud

Common Types of Commercial Fraud 

There are a number of ways that corporate executives can commit commercial fraud, including:

  • Misappropriation of Corporate Funds ­– Taking money intended for business use and using that money for personal gain is a common type of commercial fraud.Corporate executives can commit this fraud by creating fake expense reports, deleting payments from vendors and clients, and not reporting sales and revenue.
  • Making False Statements About Company’s Performance – Another type of commercial fraud occurs when a corporate executive knowingly makes false statements about the current and future prospects of a business to increase stock value or generate investment.
  • Kickbacks – Kickbacks are payments that a third party pays to a corporate executive to obtain a contract, obtain favorable terms on a loan, or influence any type of order. An executive who accepts consistent kickbacks often faces corruption charges in addition to charges of receiving kickbacks.
  • Insider Trading – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines insider trading as buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material [or] nonpublic information about the security. In other words, corporate executives who provide confidential information about their company to a third party in exchange for some type of financial gain are guilty of insider trading. This often occurs when a company is about to go public with a stock, and an executive tips off an investor ahead of time so that they can buy a significant amount of shares.

Hiring An Experienced Business Lawyer

Whether you are accused of commercial fraud, or you are accusing another entity of commercial fraud, the Law Firm of Peter M. Feaman, P.A. has the resources and the expertise to provide you with outstanding representation. We understand how your business can be impacted in a negative way when you’re accused of fraud, and we also understand how fraud perpetrated against your business can affect your future goals. Whether you need us to defend you from a fraud claim, or you need us to initiate a fraud claim against another party, we will use al our resources to achieve success on your behalf. Please call561-734-5552 to schedule a an initial consultation.

Additional Reading

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Types of Business Liens

One of the realities about owning a business is that you will probably have to take out a loan at some point,

Business Lienswhether it’s to expand your company or to keep operations running until you turn a profit.

You may also owe a contractor for work done on your business property.

The problem, however, is that if you don’t pay those debts, your creditors can take you to court and secure a lien, which is a legal claim against business property or business assets.

Common Liens Used Against a Business

There are several types of business liens, including:

  • Judgment – A creditor can sue you in small claims court and obtain a judgment, which gives the creditor the right to obtain the money you owe. After a court issues a judgment, it places a lien on your business property, which means that if you don’t pay the debt, the creditor who won the lawsuit can seize your assets and sell them.
  • Tax – A state or federal tax authority can put a tax lien on your business property to pay for any outstanding tax debts. Tax liens apply to all business property, including real estate, cars and all business equipment. Typically, the tax authority sends a letter warning you of an impending lien if you don’t pay the debt. The lien can include all interest and penalties as well as the original amount of the debt.
  • Security Interest – This is a voluntary type of lien, which means that you agree that a lien is possible at the time that you enter into the debt. So if you purchase more real estate for your business, your creditor immediately gains security interest in that real estate. If you don’t pay that creditor, it can seize the property to pay for that debt.
  • Contractor’s Lien – If a contractor performs work on your business property and you fail to pay the invoice, the contractor can obtain a lien against your business to recover the debt. This prevents you from selling or refinancing your business without first paying the debt. In extreme cases, the contractor’s lien can force you to pay off assets to settle the debt.
  • Blanket – A blanket lien is the most serious type of business lien, because it gives your creditor the power to seize all your business assets as well as your personal assets if you default on that loan. Other types of business liens only apply to business property and assets, but a blanket lien gives creditors the highest level of control over your finances.


The Importance of An Experienced Business Attorney

Liens are often a complex area of business law, and if you don’t secure the services of a business lawyer who has handled these challenges, you may lose your entire business. The Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman, PA have the resources to help you resolve a business lien issue. Please call us today at 561-734-5552 to schedule a consultation.

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Business Check List for 2018

Business Check List for 2018With a New Year right around the corner, now is the time to give your business a complete checkup. During this checkup you are going to take an honest look at the heath of your business now, and determine what you can do in the coming months to help move toward the goals you have for growth. Creating a business check list for 2018 is the best way to ensure your company is poised for success in the New Year.

Some areas of your business you need to review, and what you need to include on your business check list can be found here.

Business Check List: Your Financial Performance

Your business won’t be able to survive without a healthy cash flow or profits. You should try to review your finances a few times a year, but especially at the start of a new year. This will help you make effective plans to avoid lean times. Some things to include on your business check list include:

  • Your cash flow statements to show what is coming in and what is going out
  • The profit and loss statements with year-over-year comparisons
  • Accounts receivable

Business Check List: Banking

Something else to include on your business check list is what is going on with your banking relationships. You should figure out if you have been paying any unneeded fees, or if you need to switch the current credit card you have for your business to one with more perks or better rates.

The New Year is also a great time to consider a new line of credit to help you make it through slower financial times that may arise. You can set this up now, so that you can avoid a financial crisis.

Business Check List: Taxes

It is a good idea to go ahead and schedule an appointment with your accountant now to see if there are any money-saving strategies to find out about any new regulations that may be applicable to your business.

For example, there are some businesses that may be entitled to new tax breaks, or be able to save on their taxes by creating some type of employee benefit program. Now is the time to implement new tax savings and programs before the year gets started.

Business Check List: Insurance

When it comes to devastating risks, insurance is your first line of defense. However, if your business has grown significantly in the past year, you may have also outgrown the insurance that you purchased when you first opened. At the very least you need to have business interruption coverage, a property damage policy and liability coverage.

Business Check List: Employees

Take time to assess the needs you will have regarding employees in the coming months. Do you have any new positions that need to be filled? Are there people that need to be let go? Take some time to review what your employee needs are now, and what they are going to be for the rest of 2018.

If you have any serious legal questions or concerns related to your business for the upcoming year, you should hire a business attorney. They can answer any questions you may have and ensure you are prepared for the new year.

More information about business law can be found by contacting the attorneys at Feaman Law by calling 561-734-5552.

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What is DBA?

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What is DBA?

Have you ever wondered what a DBA is? If so, you should understand that a DBA is nothing more than just an abbreviation for the phrase, “doing business as.” It is a type of umbrella term in the world of business that describes how one business entity is practicing, regardless of if it is a single person or a corporation, doing business under some other name.

Why is a DBA Needed?

It is required for you to register your DBA if a business is operating under a name, any name, which is different from its legal name. On a state level, the DBA is often required as a minimum for a business to operate, because of the productions and the consumer benefits that are available to the ones who file one.DBA

You can think of a business or company “doing business as,” when the name that they are operating under is different, even from just one character, from its registered, legal name. What this means is that if Ben Williams owns a business that is called “Williams Hardware,” but wants to conduct a transaction under the name, “Williams Hardware Store,” then they would have to file and receive approval for the DBA.

A business owner who is beginning a partnership or a sole proprietorship in the business world has the option of selecting a business name or a DBA for the business. The DBA, which is sometimes a fictitious name, is needed for any scenario where a business is planning on operating under a name other than the one they registered. A business or entity that is engaging in this practice has to register with the proper state legislators, city or county.

To avoid any confusion or loopholes, no fictitious business names or DBAs can use the words, “Inc,” “incorporation,” or “corporation” in them. The only exception to this rule is a corporation that has been registered with the Secretary of State; however, these are rare.

How to File the DBA

The process to file a DBA or a fictitious name will vary from one state to another. In most cases, all a person has to do is visit your local, county office and pay a small fee. However, in some cases, the DBA name has to be put in an ad in several state or local newspapers for a certain amount of time. This means the cost can vary from just $10 to over $100 depending on where it is filed.

Reasons You May Want a DBA

There are several reasons that you may want to get a DBA, including liability protection and name recognition. However, this is something that you have to consider carefully to determine if it is right for you. In some cases, working with a business attorney will be the best way to figure out if this is something you should do for your business.

If you are considering a DBA, then you should contact the attorneys at Feaman Law by calling (561) 734-5552. When you are ready to make a change in your business, having legal help is the best way to ensure it is done properly. This will minimize mistakes and help make sure that you get the results you want and need.

Additional reading

Why Using Free Legal Documents Online May Cost You in the Long Run

What to Know About Starting a Business and a Partnership