Kelly O’Keefe represents professional and family member fiduciaries in trust and estate litigation, and private and public sector clients in real estate litigation, complex business litigation and before government agencies. Kelly’s experience spans state, federal and local government forums. She has managed cases in multiple parallel forums, including arbitration, and brought cases successfully through appeal. Her clients appreciate the thoughtful manner in which she finds creative and cost effective solutions to difficult legal issues and seemingly intractable disputes regarding personal and family wealth.
Trust and Probate Litigation
Kelly has experience in complex and high-stakes trust and probate disputes and litigation, including the following:
- Representing trustees and beneficiaries of multimillion dollar trusts in breach of fiduciary duty claims.
- Defending equitable adoption claims.
- Defending fraud claims against guardians and other challenges to guardians’ authority.
- Litigating exceptions to specific needs trusts.
- Challenging inter vivos transfers.
- Litigating business succession disputes.
- Negotiating and litigating trust terminations.
- Prosecuting creditor claims against probate estates.
- Litigation regarding the construction of trusts and wills.
- Will contests, including undue influence challenges
Real Estate and Land Use Litigation
Kelly also represents developers, property owners, management companies and parties to real estate related agreements in a variety of real property and land use disputes, including complex commercial foreclosures. Her experience in this area includes the following:
- Representing property management companies in landlord/tenant and leasing disputes, including breach of covenants, ADA claims, disputes over operating expenses, evictions and first amendment issues.
- Representing property owners in permitting and zoning related disputes, including code violations, ordinance challenges, and property rights disputes.
- Representing developers and owners in an array of restrictive covenant, condominium and community association disputes.
- Representing owners in storm water litigation.
- Representing owners in boundary and easement related disputes.
- Representing parties to construction related disputes.
- Litigating purchase related disputes, including pursuit of claims for specific performance.
- Litigating real estate related partnership disputes.
- Litigating partition actions.
- Representing lenders and corporate debtors in complex real estate foreclosure proceedings, including cases with lender liability, guaranty and deficiency claims.
Government, Administrative, Election and Political Activity Law
Kelly has represented both government entities, and those subject to government rules and regulation, including political and judicial candidates and an array of Florida businesses. Her representations include the following:
- Challenging government decisions before state agencies and the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.
- Counsel to government entity pursuing ethics charges against public official.
- Advising judicial and political candidates on election laws.
- Counsel to Political Action Committee challenging the ballot title and summary for proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution.
- Challenging constitutionality of state health care related legislation.
- Challenging local government ballot initiatives.
- Assisted entrepreneur in establishing Florida real estate related business by navigating various regulatory hurdles they encountered and changing legislation that prevented them from conducting business in Florida.
- Drafted legislation and agency rules allowing use of coastal erosion protection product that mitigated hurricane damage.
- Representing Florida businesses in litigation over the award of State contracts, including transportation related contracts.
- Counsel to automobile manufacturers in franchise related litigation before the Department of Administrative Hearings.
Complex Commercial and Fiduciary Litigation
Kelly also represents distressed companies, creditors, receivers and government entities in bankruptcy, receivership, and related adversary proceedings. Her experience includes the following:
- Obtaining multi-million dollar settlement for fiduciary entity pursuing fraud claims against company officers on behalf of liquidated company.
- Representing debtors and unsecured creditors' committees in adversary litigation in bankruptcy proceedings, including representation of Creditors Committee in class action suit.
- Representing securities brokers and investors in securities fraud arbitrations and litigation, including one of the first cases against Bear Stearns challenging its procedure for valuation of mortgage-backed securities, which ultimately contributed to the company's downfall.
- Litigating mortgage fraud matters for some of the largest providers of mortgage services in the county.
- Representing consumer credit data repositories in antitrust litigation.
- Counsel to insurance companies in coverage disputes, including a case in which she defeated a competing insurer’s attempt to have her client’s procedures declared inconsistent with Florida law.
Professional & Community Involvement
- Capital City Bank Community Foundation Board, 2018-2021
- The Florida Bar, Florida Probate Rules Committee, 2017-2020
- Women United Steering Committee, 2017-Present
- Tallahassee Chamber, Board Member and Grow Business Committee Member, 2014-Present
- Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council, 2014-Present
- Treasurer, 2019-Present
- Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, 2010-Present
- Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, 2010-Present
- President 2015-2017
- Vice President, 2014-2015
- Florida Bar Judicial Administration & Evaluation Committee, 2010-Present
- Chair, 2014-2015
- Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Tallahassee Class XXV, 2007-Present
- William H. Stafford American Inn of Court, 2002-Present
- Tallahassee Bar Association, 2000-Present
- President, 2009-2010
- President-Elect, 2008-2009
- Treasurer, 2007-2008
- Secretary, 2006-2007
- Director, 2002-2006
- Legal Aid Foundation, 2000-Present
- Guardian Ad Litem, 2000-Present
- Florida Association for Women Lawyers, 1998-Present
- Secretary, 2000-2001
- Public Relations Officer, 1998-1999
- Attorney Coach of Lincoln High School Mock Trial and Moot Court Teams, 1996-Present
- Tallahassee Women Lawyers, 1995-Present
- President, 1999-2000
- Florida Bar Foundation Fellow
- Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle, Board Member, 2012-2015
- Florida Bar
- Second Circuit Grievance Committee, 2011-2014
- Chair, 2013-2014
- Florida State University Real Estate Trends Networking Conference, Conference Committee Member, 2009-2012
- Florida State University Law School Alumni Board, Outreach Chair, 2006-2009
- Florida Bar Appellate Rules Committee, 2004-2010
- Vice Chair Administrative Practice Subcommittee, 2007-2010
- Robert Orsek Memorial Moot Court Competition, Chair, 2006
- Florida Bar Special Committee on Website Advertising Rules, 2005-2006
- Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors
- Second Circuit Representative, 2001-2006
- Executive Committee Member, 2004-2006
- Florida Bar Advertising Task Force, 2004-2005
- Florida Bar Judicial Administration, Selection and Tenure Committee, 2000-2002
- Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee for the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award, 2001
- First 150 Florida Women Lawyers Project: Co-Chair Research Committee, 1999-2000
- Legal Services of North Florida, Legal Intake at Homeless Shelter and Legal Advice Clinic, Volunteer, 1994-2000
- The Best Lawyers in America®, 2017-2022
- Tallahassee Democrat, 25 Women You Need to Know, 2019
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ rated
- Florida Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2013-2018; Administrative Law, 2014; Appellate Practice, 2006; Estate & Trust Lit, 2019-2020
- Florida Trend's Florida Legal Elite, Commercial Litigation, Hall of Fame, 2010-2021; Up & Comer, 2007
- Women of Distinction, Gemstone Honoree, Law, Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle, 2011
- Florida Association for Women Lawyers Leaders in Law Award, 2010
- Attorney of the Year Award, The Florida Law Related Education Association 2005
- Lynn Futch Most Productive Young Lawyer Award, The Florida Bar, 2001
Publications & Presentations
From Start Up To Succession: A Journey through The Business Life Cycle
Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Professional Women's Forum|October 2021
Decisions Through Our Stages of Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Capital Medical Society Membership Meeting & Financial Seminar|February 2020
Ok Boomer - Are you ready to retire?
Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council|January 2020
Money Talk: What Financial Phase Are You In Now?
Tallahassee Chamber Conference|August 2019
Women and Wealth - Through the Stages of Life
Professional Women's Forum|April 2019
Election & Political Law News Update, Government & Administrative News Update, Publications:
Upcoming Vote on Amendment 10 Ensures Florida's County Constitutional Officers Are Elected Locally
Stearns Weaver Miller News Update |October 2018
Probate Litigation 101: The Nuts and Bolts
Pincus Professional Education Seminar|April 2018
Election Law Primer for Candidates, Campaign Consultants and Staff | Free Webinar
In the Media:
TLH Briefcase: Aug. 29, 2021
Tallahassee Democrat|August 2021
Stearns Weaver Miller honored with 2020 Tallahassee Women Lawyers Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in 2020 Florida Super Lawyers
In the Media:
Briefcase: Aug. 25
Tallahassee Democrat|August 2019
Kelly A. O'Keefe Elected Treasurer of Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in Florida Super Lawyers 2019
In the Media:
25 Women: Lawyer Kelly O'Keefe aims to help people 'move mountains'
Tallahassee Democrat |March 2019
In the Media:
Congratulations to the 2019 25 Women you Need to Know and 5 Young Women to Watch
Tallahassee Democrat|February 2019