I truly enjoy the inter-related practice of probate and estate planning law. None of us like to think about dying or the possibility of becoming incapacitated. However, pre-planning and having the legal documents prepared ahead of time, can make things much easier and less stressful for your family, when the time comes. There is a myth that Wills, Trusts, Health Care Directives, and Powers of Attorney are just forms. Actually each of these documents is associated with specific Florida statutes, which govern their use. In other words, Florida law is intricately connected to the words on the pages.
When family members die, there is grief in addition to the hard task of dealing with the final affairs. If probate is necessary, then I assist the personal representative to carry out their legal duties according to law andthe decedent’s intent, as set forth in their Will or Trust document. My goal is to help each of my clients to complete this process, in the simplest and most straight forward manner.
At the beginning of my work life, I chose to study nursing because of my love of science and the thought of combining that interest with meaningful work. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Nursing in Science from the University of South Florida and working in Tampa hospitals for a time, I took up another challenge and attended law school at the University of Florida College of Law. Upon graduation, I headed back to Tampa to practice in the perfect area for my background: medical malpractice.
Still, today I clearly remember the first medical malpractice case I worked on. A three year boy was hospitalized for a shunt blockage caused by an infection. This created a dangerous buildup of pressure in his brain. I recall reading the nurses notes, somewhat in disbelief, where they documented the child’s critically low pulses of 40 to 50 beats per minute, hour after hour, never notifying any physician. The nurses failed to realize this low pulse rate indicated increased pressure in the child’s brain. The child went into a coma from which he never recovered. Today I have more than 20 years of experience in handling medical malpractice cases. This experience together with my combined background of law and nursing, makes me uniquely suited to this area of law.
My other passion is assisting clients in Estate Planning. In this area of law, we plan not just for how to pass on what we own upon death, but also plan for incapacity. Many people believe that estate planning is just about forms. It is so much more than that. All Estate Plan documents we create; Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives and Living Wills, are governed by specific Florida Statutes. This assures that those who execute the documents, those who benefit from the documents and third parties who rely upon them, play by the same rules. Our laws regarding estates originally came from England, and over time banking and insurance laws interceded, which makes estate planning more complicated than it seems. My clients often remark on how good they feel once all their affairs are in order.
Our job as estate lawyers is to help our clients avoid probate. However, for those who have not preplanned, the probate law provides for an orderly distribution of the decedent’s property to their heirs. We accomplish this through probate administration. If Wills or Trusts are obtained through undue influence, I help clients litigate the dispute in the probate court.
Owning my own firm puts me in the fortunate position of practicing in the areas of law I most enjoy, and for that I am grateful.
For the last ten years I’ve been a proud member of Tampa Kiwanis, a fundraising group that benefits local non-profits which serve children, and am the current acting vice president.
Diane is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell which is the highest attainable peer review rating of ethical standards and professional ability.