Rohan Kelley was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Rohan attended Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and graduated in 1958. He then attended Duke University and received a bachelor’s degree after 3 1/2 years of study. In 1962 he entered law school at the University of Florida and graduated in 1964 with his Doctor of Jurisprudence. Rohan has also been active in civic and community affairs. He served for several years as a member of the Broward County Planning and Zoning Board, as President of the Pine Crest School Alumni Association and as a member of the governing board of that school. He has also been an adjunct professor of law at Nova University Law School and a guest lecturer at St. Thomas Law School and the University of Miami Law School tax master’s program.
Upon graduation from law school in 1964, Rohan joined his father, William J. Kelley, in his legal practice. Father and son practiced together until his father’s death in 1977. Rohan’s practice in the earlier years was broadly based, but in the last forty-plus years he has concentrated exclusively in the areas of the law which include Wills, Trusts, Estates, Estate Planning, Taxation of Estates and Litigation involving Wills, Trusts and Estates. Rohan has been and continues to be a prolific speaker and author within his legal fields of expertise, as well as a teacher.
He is best known throughout the State of Florida and nationally as author of The Florida Bar Probate System, the leading legal practice manual on Florida estates. The Florida Bar first published this book in 1979 to make it available to lawyers throughout the state as an instructional treatise to advance the skills of attorneys who practice in this substantive area of the law. This publication is now published in its fifth edition and is co-authored with Rohan’s daughter, Tae Kelley Bronner, Esq., who also practices in Florida. The Florida Bar has sold copies of this publication to more than 2,000 law offices.
In addition to The Florida Bar Probate System, Rohan’s other published works include:
Chapter 21 “Probate Litigation”, Chapter 15 “Fees and Other Expenses of Administration” (co‑author) and Chapter 19 “Homestead and Exempt Personal Property” (co‑author with his daughter, Tae Kelley Bronner) of Practice Under Florida Probate Code published by The Florida Bar.
Chapter 11 entitled, “Compensation Disputes”, of Litigation Under Florida Probate Code, Second Edition published by The Florida Bar.
“Protecting the Corporate Fiduciary’s Tender Backside” an article published in the February 1988 issue of Trusts and Estates magazine (a national publication circulated to lawyers and financial institutions.)
“Homestead Made Easy” originally a two part article which appeared in the March and April 1991 issues of the Florida Bar Journal, which is the definitive work explaining the intricacies of Florida Homestead as it relates to (and complicates) the probate of Florida estates and Florida estate planning. These articles first published the now famous “Kelley’s Paradigm,” a graphical instructional tool explaining the interpretation of homestead law. Two more articles in the series were published in the 1995 June and July/August issues of the Florida Bar Journal. These last two were co‑authored with Rohan’s daughter, Tae Kelley Bronner, Esq.
1996 Survey of Florida Trusts and Estates Law, Nova University Law Review, Fall 1996, an article analyzing evolving changes in the law of Trusts and Estates law.
In addition to the lectures listed above, Rohan has also lectured to the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges, the Florida Bankers Association, Trust Division and the Alabama Bankers’ Association in addition to many local and regional bar associations and estate planning councils. He is the author of the lecture material presented annually to new probate judges to teach them the basics of probate law. He is also called as an expert witness to testify in court about complicated estate procedures.
In 1982 Rohan was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel, a prestigious national organization of recognized experts in the field of estate planning and probate law. For many years, he has served on the fiduciary litigation committee of that organization. Membership in the College is by invitation only and less than three in each thousand lawyers meet the requirements for admission.
Of all of his achievements, Rohan is most proud of the fact (although not an achievement of his) that his 3 children who are lawyers, Shane, Tae and Sean, have also been elected in 2008, 2010 and 2012, respectively, as fellows of the American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel. No other Fellow of the College has 3 children who are also Fellows.
Rohan was appointed by the President of the Florida Bar in 1984 as Chairman of the Probate Rules Committee, the committee of the Bar which has responsibility for the legal rules under which probate of wills are conducted by the Courts and he served in that capacity until 1988. During his tenure, that Committee proposed massive changes in the probate rules, which changes were adopted and approved by the Florida Supreme Court. 30 years later, in 2005, his son, Shane Kelley held that same appointed position.
In 1985, the Supreme Court approved a plan whereby the Florida Bar certifies attorneys as having special knowledge, skills and proficiency in the area of estate planning and probate to be “board certified” by the Florida Bar. The Court instructed the President of the Bar to appoint a committee of seven “eminent attorneys in [the] field” to investigate and examine the qualifications of applicants to determine if they meet the standards promulgated by the Bar. Rohan was the only attorney in Broward County (only one of two on the Gold Coast) appointed as a member of that select committee to test and review the knowledge and qualifications of other lawyers to be “board certified” in the field of estate planning and probate. As part of his appointment, he was granted automatic “board certification” without the requirement of examination or further review. He served as committee chairman in 1988 1989.
In 1990, Rohan was tapped as the recipient of the prestigious Award for Excellence in Continuing Legal Education from the Association of Continuing Legal Education Administrators. This award is granted by ACLEA, a national organization of professional state bar continuing legal education administrators, and lawyers from throughout the country are nominated for the award. The award is for excellence and outstanding service to the legal profession in the area of educating other lawyers to maintain or improve their professional skills.
In 1993, the Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar awarded Rohan the Robert C. Scott Award, their highest award for service to the bar and the profession.
From 1997 through 2001, Rohan served as chairman of the Probate Law Committee of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar. During that time, that Committee proposed extensive revisions to the Florida Probate Code that were presented to the Florida Legislature. The Florida House of Representatives Staff Analysis of that bill said: “This represents the most comprehensive overhaul of the probate code since it became law on January 1976. . . . Rohan Kelley [is] a frequent contributor to the legislative process regarding the Probate Code and the author of numerous articles and treatises regarding the Florida Probate Code . . .”. In 2009, his daughter, Tae Kelley Bronner became chairperson of the Probate Law committee, another Kelley offspring following in the father’s footsteps.
Rohan has served in various executive positions in the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar, the largest division of the bar with 11,000 members. In 2006-2007, he served as chair of the Section. During his tenure as chair, with a budget of more than one million dollars, the Section reported the largest surplus in its more than 50 year history.
In 2008, he was the recipient of the President’s Award of Merit, from Frank Angones, president of The Florida Bar. This award was given for Rohan’s leadership and activities in promoting diversity within The Florida Bar.
As an author, lecturer, and recognized expert in his fields, he is frequently sought as a consultant by other attorneys, both in Florida and nationally on matters involving wills, estate planning, administration and estate litigation, and is often retained by other attorneys and judges, to prepare their personal wills and estate plans.
After decades of litigating trust, estate and guardianship matters, in the fall of 2020, Rohan became a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator to utilize his decades’ worth of fiduciary litigation experience and is also an arbitrator.
Rohan is listed in the “Legal Elite Hall of Fame” by Florida Trend Magazine and as a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers Magazine from 2006 through 2020. He regularly lectures on Florida Homestead law and is considered one of the leading experts on the subject in the state by his peers, he is also the author of The Florida Probate System, now in its 5th edition, a publication sold to over 2,000 law offices.