Welcome! Thank you for your question.I can tell that you fully understand the issues here and would be a terrific advocate for your wife and her mother's estate. Your final question relates to whether you will be able to speak on behalf of your wife and the estate. The issue that you are stating is really whether this would be considered as the practice of law without a license. Anyone who is not a licensed attorney in Florida who offers legal advice, prepares or files legal documents, represents a client in court,presents himself as an attorney when he is not or offers a legal opinion is practicing without a license, and is subject to criminal prosecution. You filing documents or speaking on behalf of your wife is unfortunately the unlicensed practice of law.
"Generally speaking, a nonlawyer may not represent another in court. An out-of-state attorney who wishes to represent some
one in a Florida court must seek permission to appear pro hac vice
in order to do so." Rule 2.510 Fla.R.Jud.Admin. The Florida Bar v. Moses, 380 So. 2d 412 (Fla. 1980).
Your wife can certainly represent herself in the small claims proceeding, however. She can call you to testify and you can present the issues related to your experience in your testimony. The small claims judge will likely allow her lots of leeway in her questions and your comments in your testimony.Another issue that you are going to face is that the small claims judge may also not allow your wife to represent the estate because that could also be considered the practice of law without a license. "The general rule is that an individual may appear pro se and represent themselves in court. Fla. Stat. § 454.18. This general rule does not apply to probate proceedings or to corporations. In a probate proceeding, unless the individual attempting to appear pro se is the sole interested party in the matter, the individual must be represented by a member of The Florida Bar. Rule 5.030, Probate and Guardianship Rules," Falkner v. Blanton, 297 So. 2d 825 (Fla. 1974).
I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.
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