The Coleman Law Firm of Jacksonville, FL.

Excellence where it counts most.

Hard at work so you don’t have to.

Our 30+ years of experience can help you achieve peace of mind

Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyers Florida Probate Attorneys, Elder Law, Guardianship, and Asset Protection Planning

The Coleman Law Firm, PLLC, has Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyers Florida Probate Attorneys, has its main office in Jacksonville, Florida, and satellite offices  in Palm Coast, Florida and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The Coleman Law Firm limits its practice areas to the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, elder law, including Medicaid planning, special needs trusts, and qualified income trusts. The firm provides entity selection and business succession planning for small businesses for wealth preservation and asset protection planning. Many of our estate planning clients need or want charitable planning. As a natural need for our estate planning clients, we also are proficient in Florida probate and estate administration, trust administration, and guardianships for both incapacitated adults and guardianship over the property of minor children. If you need an estate planning lawyer, to probate a Florida estate, an elder law attorney for Medicaid planning to help provide for the cost of long term care in a skilled nursing home, wills, trusts, guardianship, or asset protection in Florida, we can help you. Just call us at (904) 448-1969, in Jacksonville, or 386-585-7004 in Palm Coast, or toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at  Our 30+ years of experience in these areas of Florida law can help you and your family achieve peace of mind. 


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

What is estate planning?

As Jacksonville estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys throughout the State of Florida, we believe the proper definition of estate planning is to maintain control of your assets while you are alive, protect your assets for the benefit of your family and loved ones, provide for the management of your assets and your own personal care in the event of an incapacity, and provide that upon your death, your assets pass to the people you want to receive them, in the manner and at the time you want, with the least possible cost for Federal estate taxes, professional fees for probate attorneys and lawyers, with the best asset protection available for your beneficiaries.

Our mission as Jacksonville estate planning lawyers who handle probate matters throughout Florida is to provide you with an estate plan that meets your own objectives, deals with your individual needs, effectively eliminates or otherwise deals with your concerns, and allows you to have peace of mind that your affairs will be fulfilled in the manner that you desire.  If we can assist you in the achievement of your goals as Jacksonville estate planning lawyers and Florida probate attorneys, please call us at (904) 448-1969, or toll free at (866) 510-9099, or email us at

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The mission of the Jacksonville estate planning lawyers, Florida probate attorneys, and our elder law firm, when planning an estate for our clients, is to strive to achieve the client’s estate planning goals and objectives consistent with your needs and desires.

As Jacksonville estate planning lawyers and Florida Probate attorneys, we implement this mission when planning an estate by engaging you, our client, in comprehensive estate planning where our first objective is to gain a full understanding of your needs, desires, goals, and objectives, as well as your fears and concerns, as they relate to your family and your estate plan – whether you need a simple will or a complex trust, or if you need to plan around Federal estate tax laws, we can assist you in determining what legal documents will be necessary to achieve your estate planning objective, whether that will include a last will and testament, a revocable living trust, a durable power of attorney, a health care surrogate, and any other estate planning document needed to achieve your estate planning objectives.

Our focus is not exclusively on the passage of wealth at death as provided by Florida law. When planning an estate, we include consideration of lifetime gifting (and the Federal gift tax annual exclusion), planning for incapacity, elder law concerns for long term care and Medicaid planning, special needs planning, and protection of your assets during your lifetime, and planning for end of life decisions involving living wills and other advance directives, so the value of your assets and the wealth you have accumulated in your estate will be available for your benefit and for the benefit of your family and other loved ones.

As experienced Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys, we initiate our professional attorney-client relationship with you by seeking to understand your individual circumstances, your family members and relationships, and your estate planning goals and objectives. We also take into consideration your fears and concerns about wills, trusts and probate, the laws of probate, incapacity, Florida guardianship law, long term care planning, Medicaid planning, VA pension benefits, estate taxes, and other related matters. We want to know and understand your individual family members, their strengths, their weaknesses, their talents, their needs and their desires. Only by truly understanding the dynamics of your family can we then identify and help you understand the various options under the applicable estate planning laws that are appropriate and available to you to deal with the specific estate planning circumstances that are unique to you and your family members.

After we have gained an understanding of your needs and desires, and after you have learned about the advantages and disadvantages of the various estate planning tools and techniques that are available under Florida estate planning law for you to achieve your estate planning goals and objectives, and after we address your fears and concerns, we will then, together with you, design an estate plan that is specifically tailored to help you accomplish the purposes for which you initiated the estate planning process.

If you need Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys or an elder law firm,  please call us (904) 448-1969, toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us  We’ll put our 30+ years experience to work for you to help you and your family achieve peace of mind.

What are advance directives?

Our process for estate planning begins with an examination of your needs for advance directives that are appropriate for your circumstances.  Advance directives include at a minimum a Florida durable power of attorney, a designation of health care surrogate (health care power of attorney), a declaration of preneed guardian, and a Florida living will.  We will explain the difference between a living will and a living trust and the differences between a basic will, a complex will with testamentary trusts, and a living trust, as the basis for planning your estate. As your estate planning lawyers probate attorney and elder law firm, we want to ensure that you have the proper advance directives to provide for any unexpected incapacity.

 The topics surrounding living wills and the scope of end of life decisions is one that is becoming of increasing prevalence and importance as the baby boomers move into the ranks of the elderly.  Proper consideration of the options and choices that you have as an individual is critical to accomplishing your own objectives in this very emotional circumstance.  You can begin your research into your options by reviewing the information that can be found at Honoring Choices.

The principal purpose for advance directives is to provide for the management of your assets and your personal care in the manner that you desire, and by the people that you want, should you become incapacitated mentally or physically. These documents are the most important with regard to you and your needs during your lifetime.  If you want Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys to assist you with putting appropriate advance directives in place to ensure the proper care for you and your assets should you become incapacitated, please call us at (904) 448-1969, or toll free to (866) 510-9099, or email us at

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From there we proceed to evaluate your potential need for planning for incapacity and long term care planning, issues dealing with elder law, and whether your objectives can best be met with an irrevocable trust, a revocable living trust, a life estate deed, an enhanced life estate deed (lady bird deed), or other appropriate planning techniques that work for you within the estate planning laws in Florida.

We examine federal estate tax issues, as well as income tax planning issues.  We then develop a blueprint for the Florida will and trust, and other appropriate ancillary estate planning documents, such as a power of attorney, that will be needed to accomplish the protection of your assets during your lifetime, and the care and the management of your assets in the event of your disability or incapacity, and the efficient transfer of wealth at your death through avoiding probate.

If you have a family member or loved one who has special needs as a result of mental, emotional or physical disabilities, we will help you understand the benefits, and requirements, of special needs trusts so that you can help provide meaningful support for that family member without risking the loss of any of the public benefits to which that family member is or may become entitled.  We can prepare a special needs trust document that will effectively provide the support you want for your loved one, without causing a loss of the public benefits.  We can also provide guidance and instruction on the proper administration of a special needs trust, and help you find an appropriate institutional trustee for the special needs trust.

At each stage of the estate planning process we take into consideration avoiding estate taxes as well as the income tax implications, of every will and trust. We consider, every aspect of your estate plan, including asset protection and wealth preservation.  There is little benefit to having a great estate plan, if all of your assets can be lost to creditors because the assets were not properly titled or structured to legally protect them against creditor claims.  We help you evaluate the opportunities for long term asset protection planning for the next generation, and successive generations to minimize taxes throughout the successive generations. We also help you identify strategies for life insurance and more complex estate planning when that is appropriate.

We help our clients evaluate options for charitable planning from the perspective of income tax savings, as well as major philanthropy through private foundations, charitable trusts, donor advised funds, or supporting organizations.

Our estate planning documents, the last will and testament and the living trust, are designed to achieve all of the estate planning, asset protection, special needs, or other objectives you want incorporated into your estate plan.  Each Florida legal document, whether basic will, complex will, revocable or irrevocable trust, is tailored to meet the specific requirements of your unique circumstances.  The Florida wills and trusts documents that we prepare for you are so unique and specific to you and your estate planning goals and objectives, that we copyright each one of them.

If you need legal advice to plan for your potential incapacity, long term care, asset protection, income and estate tax savings, wills and irrevocable or revocable trusts, or for someone in your family who has special needs issues, please contact the Jacksonville estate planning, probate, elder law, guardianship and asset protection lawyers and attorneys at The Coleman Law Firm so that we can put our 30+ years of experience to work to help you design and implement a plan that meets your unique needs and helps you avoid probate and avoid estate taxes (avoiding the death tax).

You can contact your Jacksonville estate planning lawyer, toll free at 866-510-9099, or by email at

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss briefly several of the major topics providing legal information about Florida law included in this website.  There is a more detailed discussion of each topic on the pages that follow.

Thank you for visiting with us and if you have any questions or if we can provide you additional information, please be sure to let us know.


Advance directives include several different documents that are all designed to provide for some aspect of your care in the event of your absence or incapacity and includes end of life decisions and planning with living wills.

The most common of these documents is the durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney allows you to designate the person or persons you want to handle your business and financial affairs in the event of your absence or incapacity. You should expect your durable power of attorney to be drafted to deal with your specific circumstances. It is not a one size fits all, cookie-cutter document. The Florida Power of Attorney statute that became effective October 1, 2011 dictates that several options should be explained to you so that you understand what rights you can delegate and concerns you should consider with the delegation of these rights.

If both you and your spouse are in your first marriage, the marriage is of long term duration, and you have one set of common children, your durable power of attorney most likely should be different from the power of attorney for someone who is in a second or third marriage, and there are children from a previous marriage. Perhaps you and your spouse have children together, and you want your assets to be available for your spouse’s support and comfort after your death, but you want your assets to go to your children after your spouse’s death. A Florida specific durable power of attorney can include provisions to allow your attorney-in-fact to change your last will and testament or your revocable living trust, as well as beneficiary designations for life insurance policies or retirement plans; or your Florida specific durable power of attorney can exclude these provisions, and include others.

If you need the assistance of an estate planning attorney in Jacksonville, or throughout Florida, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at

Your durable power of attorney can be drafted to include provisions for the care of pets, for the operation of a business or farm, or for any other specific circumstance you want covered. The more complete and specific a durable power of attorney is drafted, the more likely it is that the durable power of attorney will serve the purpose you intended. As you review the related section of this website dealing with Power of Attorney law, keep in mind that you have the right to a power of attorney that is designed to be as comprehensive or as limited as you want it to be. That is a responsibility your estate planning lawyer should provide.

Other advance directives include the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, the Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian, and the Living Will. Again, though there are statutory forms for each of these documents, your advance directives should be designed to accomplish your specific desires and deal with your unique concerns. Even the living will, made famous by the Terry Schiavo case, can be annotated to provide coverage of things that may be more important to you than to other people. In many, perhaps most cases, the Florida statutory forms are satisfactory and legally sufficient. [For a free Florida Living Will legal form download, or a free Florida Designation of Health Care Surrogate legal form, please go to our page for Free Legal Forms.] You have the right to insist that your estate planning documents are tailored to your needs.

For more information about advance directives, including how to create a living will, health care powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney, please contact The Coleman Law Firm at (904) 448-1969 [toll free at 866-510-9099] or email us at

What should I consider in developing a long term care plan in Florida?

Medicare does not pay for nursing home care beyond a certain specified limit, usually about 100 days. As elder law attorneys, we assist many clients with the process of planning, applying for, and qualifying for Florida Medicaid benefits and Veteran’s benefits to help pay for nursing home costs for loved ones who find skilled nursing home care a necessity. We are experienced elder law attorneys and thoroughly familiar with the Florida Medicaid and Veteran’s eligibility requirements.

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As Jacksonville Medicaid planning, Veterans benefits planning, and Florida elder law attorneys, we engage in a process that includes carefully designed and implemented Medicaid spend down plans to preserve the family’s assets to the extent legally possible, while ensuring that the family member who is institutionalized has proper care at all times.

We also prepare and file the Florida Medicaid application, and the Veteran’s benefits application for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In many cases, the assistance of a qualified Medicaid planning attorney or VA benefits and elder law attorney in Jacksonville, can help preserve substantial financial assets of the nursing home resident, and the spouse, including the Florida homestead, through effective long term care planning. Residents of Florida should not sell or transfer their Florida homestead because of nursing home care without first consulting with an experienced elder law and Medicaid planning attorney.

If you need a Medicaid planning or elder law attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at

How can I avoid being impoverished by the high cost of nursing home care?

The rules of Medicaid planning in Jacksonville, and throughout Florida, may require the use of a qualified income trust, sometimes called a Miller trust or a QIT.  Only Florida lawyers can legally draft a trust document in Florida.  A Medicaid qualified income trust is a trust that is used to shield income above the level allowed by Florida Medicaid rules for eligibility for Medicaid benefits, so that the skilled nursing home resident is eligible to receive Medicaid benefits despite having an income level that exceeds the allowable income limit.  If you have a family member or loved one who may need long term care in a skilled nursing home, please contact your Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys and elder law firm to learn how you can preserve your assets and ensure quality care for them.


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As experienced elder law attorneys, we provide our clients with very detailed directions for the proper use and maintenance of the qualified income trust, to comply with all Florida laws and Medicaid rules governing the administration of a qualified income trust. Because we understand the urgency often associated with obtaining a qualified income trust, we make every effort to ensure that the qualified income trust for your family member is completed within as little as 48 hours, if necessary.

Additionally, there is a Medicaid asset limit that must be met to comply with the Florida Medicaid eligibility requirements. The Medicaid eligibility requirements and the rules for eligibility for VA benefits are different. For a veteran seeking assisted living benefits or VA benefits for a nursing home in Florida, it is critical that the planning for the two benefits programs be coordinated so that actions taken with respect to qualifying for VA benefit eligibility will not make the veteran ineligible for Medicaid benefits for nursing homes in Florida. A Florida elder law attorney is critical in the planning process to avoid disqualification for one type of benefits in the process of qualifying for the other type of benefits.

Often the first meaningful issue that an incapacitated elder person who has met the medical qualifications for Medicaid nursing home benefits will have to face is finding a nursing home in the Northeast Florida area with space for a resident who intends to use Medicaid as the method of payment for the nursing home care. If you would like to receive our free Northeast Florida Nursing Home Guide, containing information about every nursing home in the Jacksonville and Northeast Florida area, please complete the request form found at this website.

For more information or legal advice from an elder law attorney about Medicaid planning, Medicaid eligibility requirements, VA benefits, or applying for veterans benefits, filing an application for Medicaid in Florida, please contact your Jacksonville elder law attorney at the Coleman Law Firm at (904) 448-1969 [toll free at 866-510-9099] or email us at

What are some typical estate planning documents?

We will discuss with you why you need a will or why you need a trust.  We will help you understand how a will works, how a trust works, and what happens in the event of your disability and at your death.  As discussed above with reference to advance directives, and even more so with Florida wills and trusts, you have the right to have your estate planning legal documents reflect your estate planning objectives that are unique to your needs and that deal with the estate planning issues involved in your specifically designed estate plan.

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Your family, while it may share many characteristics with other families, is unique unto itself. Your estate plan should incorporate a last will and testament or revocable living trust that effectively deals with the distinctive estate planning needs, goals, objectives, dreams, desires, fears and concerns that are uniquely yours.There are two major distinctions between an estate plan based on a last will and testament, and an estate plan based on a revocable living trust. If properly funded (meaning the transfer or re-titling of assets), the revocable trust (1) allows for more effective planning for the management of your estate in the event of your incapacity, and (2) may allow one to avoid probate. You must probate wills and wills must be written in accordance with the Florida probate code. A more detailed explanation of Florida Wills and wills in general can be found in the section of this website entitled “Do You Have A Will?”A discussion of the Revocable Living Trusts in Florida, and how to avoid probate in Florida is in the section bearing that same title. Both Florida probate administration and Florida trust administration are discussed more completely in separate sections of this website entitled Probate in Florida , and Trust Administration. There also is a more detailed discussion of Probate Litigation in Florida and Trust Litigation in Florida to further develop the comparison of using a Florida will based plan or a living trust based plan, especially where you own multiple parcels of real estate in multiple states.Basic estate planning is focused on the use of a last will and testament or revocable living trust as the foundation for planning your estate. If you have accumulated a larger estate that may be subject to Federal or Florida estates taxes, it is necessary to consider more sophisticated estate planning tools, both because of the potential impact of Federal estate taxes, the desire to avoid the death tax, Florida estate taxes, and the need to provide additional structure or control over the distribution of your estate assets.If you need Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys or an elder law firm, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at more sophisticated estate tax planning is appropriate or desirable, there are a number of different trusts and other tax planning techniques that may be appropriate for your Florida estate planning so that you can avoid probate and avoid the estate tax. You will find it beneficial to obtain legal advice from your Jacksonville estate planning attorney and asset protection lawyer at The Coleman Law Firm, to assist you in determining which of the many techniques are most appropriate for you, your family, and your circumstances.Various types of irrevocable trusts, or non revocable trusts, are available for consideration. These include, the Florida irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT), the private annuity trust, the qualified personal residence trust (QPRT), a Retirement Plan trust, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT), Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT), a Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT), charitable remainder trust (CRT), charitable lead trust (CLT), and other types of Florida trusts that are used for specific purposes.For instance, if a spouse is not a U.S. citizen, it is important to consider the use of a qualified domestic trust (QDOT) to avoid unnecessary Federal estate taxation or Florida estate taxation immediately upon the death of the U.S. citizen spouse. Estate planning needs, estate tax and income tax issues, and asset protection needs should always be considered by your Jacksonville estate planning lawyer or estates attorney when doing such planning.

Who needs to engage in asset protection planning?

Other estate planning techniques are used when there is a need unrelated to Federal estate taxes, such as wealth preservation and asset protection planning.  These wealth preservation and asset protection techniques include creation of family limited partnerships, limited liability companies, self cancelling installment notes, beneficiary controlled trusts, domestic asset protection trusts, premarital agreements, post-marital agreements, shareholder’s buy-sell agreements, long term care contracts, personal care contracts, and many others.

How is an estate probated or administered?

As experienced Florida probate lawyers and attorneys, we know how important it is for the probate estate administration process to be completed as required by the Florida law of probate, as soon as reasonably possible, and as efficiently as possible. Whether you are already in the probate process ,or you need to probate a will for the transfer of title of Florida real estate, or you need to know how to probate a deed for Florida real estate, or you have an estate that is subject to the estate tax, our Jacksonville probate lawyers and attorneys provide our clients with complete and timely information regarding the status and activities of each probate case.  When you have a probate in Florida, our Jacksonville estate planning lawyers Florida probate attorneys and elder law firm can assist you.  Please call us at 866-510-9099, (904) 448-1969, or email us at

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We are familiar with Florida law of probate, the Florida probate code, estates and trusts law, guardianship law, Florida probate rules, Florida probate courts, and the Florida probate court forms necessary for complying with Florida probate law.  Our Jacksonville probate lawyers and estate and trust attorneys counsel our clients on each phase of the probate estate administration process and provide probate information and direction for each step that must be taken in the Florida probate process.

If you need a Florida probate lawyer, please call us toll free at 866-510-9099.

We have substantial experience as probate lawyers in Florida in the court of probate for the probate of Florida real estate and the Florida law of probate.  Our Jacksonville probate lawyers, estate lawyers, and trust attorneys promptly respond to all questions asked, can explain what is probate, what the probate code is, and provide our clients with a complete explanation about the probate process to be followed to comply with probate law, the Florida probate code and rules of court.

Our probate attorney fees for representing you in the administration of a Florida probate estate administration will depend upon the facts and circumstances of your particular case.  Often our probate lawyers, trust attorneys, and estate attorneys, will work on a flat fee or fixed fee basis.  Other times, a probate lawyer’s, trust attorney’s or estate attorney’s hourly rates are appropriate.  In particular, if your Florida probate administration is for the sole purpose of a Florida real estate probate, i.e., transferring title to real property, our Florida probate lawyer will usually work with you on a fixed fee basis, so that you know from the beginning exactly what the total cost will be for the Florida probate process.

If you need legal representation in Florida by a probate attorney for a will in probate, for Florida probate administration to probate a will, Florida real estate, or a Florida, Florida guardianship, or any matter that is handled in the Florida probate courts, please contact The Coleman Law Firm, for your Jacksonville, Florida probate, trust or guardianship lawyer or attorney by calling toll free (866) 510-9099 or by email to

What traits are important in finding an estate planning attorney?

The Florida law firm’s founder, C. Randolph Coleman, has been a Florida estate planning attorney, wills and trusts, and probate lawyer for over 30 years, with his primary office in Jacksonville, Florida since 1985. Mr. Coleman is a frequent lecturer and nationally recognized speaker in the areas of estate planning, financial planning, Florida probate, and asset protection.

Co-authored Works

Mr. Coleman co-authored The New Florida Trust Code, Lorman Educational Services, (2008), Trusts for Pets: Planning for Pets Under the Florida Trust Code, The Florida Bar Continuing Education Program (2008, 2005); Asset Protection Techniques in Florida, National Business Institute (2004); and authored Family Limited Partnerships in Florida (Chapter: “The Use of Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning”), National Business Institute (2002); Key Issues in Estate Planning and Probate in Florida (Chapter: “Protecting the Passage of Wealth”), National Business Institute (1997); Advanced Estate Planning Techniques in Florida (Chapter: “The Use of Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning”) National Business Institute (1995).
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Mr. Coleman was the Florida Director of Asset Protection Planning for the Florida Physicians Association from 1997 to 2006, and is a member of WealthCounsel, LLC, a national association of estate planning and wealth preservation attorneys and lawyers, and ElderCounsel, LLC, a national association of elder law attorneys.

Mr. Coleman and The Coleman Law Firm are listed in the Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers, which lists only those select lawyers who have earned the A-V® Rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have therefore been designated by their colleagues as pre-eminent in their field.

Mr. Coleman is a member of The Florida Bar, The American Bar Association, the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, and the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys .  Mr. Coleman is a graduate of the University of Florida (BSBA ‘72) and the University of Florida Levin College of Law (JD, with honors ‘78), and has served on the Executive Committee of the UF College of Law Alumni  Council.  He was a practicing Florida certified public accountant for six years prior to entering private law practice in 1978.

Mr. Coleman is joined by associate attorney Lisa B. Rudolph. Ms. Rudolph is a graduate of Nova University Shepherd Broad College Law and the University of Florida (Very High Honors). She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Florida and has her primary focus litigation matters.

The Coleman Law Firm is a Jacksonville, Florida estate planning lawyers, elder law attorneys, and probate, trust administration, guardianship, and asset protection Florida law firm serving Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, Fernandina Beach, Green Cove Springs, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach, with practice in the areas of estate planning law, wills and trusts, elder law and Medicaid planning, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, guardianship, financial and tax planning, Florida estate taxes, wealth preservation and asset protection planning, charitable planning, Florida probate and trust administration and small business law,

When you need a probate lawyer in Florida, call us toll free at 866-510-9099. We can help you.


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