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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.

Representative Experience

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

Events: From Start Up To Succession: A Journey through The Business Life Cycle
Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Professional Women's Forum|October 2021

Events: Decisions Through Our Stages of Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Capital Medical Society Membership Meeting & Financial Seminar|February 2020

Events: Ok Boomer - Are you ready to retire?
Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council|January 2020

Events: Money Talk: What Financial Phase Are You In Now?
Tallahassee Chamber Conference|August 2019

Events: 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

Events: Probate Litigation 101: The Nuts and Bolts
Pincus Professional Education Seminar|April 2018

Election & Political Law News Update, Government & Administrative News Update, Publications: Who Runs The World?
Election & Political Law Report |September 2017

Events: Launching Your Campaign | Women Can Run
The Oasis Center for Women & Girls|September 2017

Events: Predicting, Preventing and When Necessary….Preparing for Will Contests
Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys|December 2016

Publications: Is Your Discretionary Trust Subject to Garnishment? Maybe...
Doing Business in Florida|November 2015

Events: Fiduciary Litigation- Recognizing, Reducing, and Resolving Risks
Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council|February 2015

Events: Evidentiary Objections in Trust and Estate Litigation
Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar|September 2014

Publications: Florida Real Property Litigation, Commercial Mortgages
The Florida Bar|February 2013

Events: Behind the Curtain - Who is Driving the Decision Making Process on Distressed Assets
2012 Real Estate Trends Conference|November 2012

Events: Inspiring Advancement Through Skills Building: Litigation Techniques
Women's Leadership Summit|March 2011

Events: Judicial Nominating Commission Panel Discussion with Governor Ruebin Askew,
August 2009

Events: Prospering in these Economic Times
Big Bend Chapter of the Paralegal Association|February 2009

Events: Exploiting Opportunities and Managing Risks - State Government Changes Impacting the Private Sector
Distressed Situation Update: Real Estate and Beyond|September 2008

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In the Media: TLH Briefcase: Aug. 29, 2021
Tallahassee Democrat|August 2021

In the Media: Briefcase: Aug. 25
Tallahassee Democrat|August 2019

In the Media: 25 Women: Lawyer Kelly O'Keefe aims to help people 'move mountains'
Tallahassee Democrat |March 2019

Firm Announcements: Stearns Weaver Miller Adds 2 Attorneys
June 2016

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