When Friends, Family, and Colleagues Pass Away, Can I Claim in Their Estate?

A loved one has passed away. A close friend died. A colleague has moved on. There were promises made, something special to remember, or an important property required for business. Can I claim in the decedent’s estate? Can I even participate in the decedent’s estate? The answers are below. If you have questions about your claim to an estate or your right to participate in an estate administration, please contact Bernhard Law Firm at 786-871-3349, www.bernhardlawfirm.com, abernhard@bernhardlawfirm.com.

Under the Florida Probate Code, any interested person may participate in a proceeding requesting or challenging an estate administration. § 733.109(1), Fla. Stat. (2017); Agee v. Brown, 73 So. 3d 882, 885 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (holding attorney who was alternative representative in prior will had standing to challenge the lower court’s administration thereof).

The Florida Probate Code specifically contemplates that any person who may be entitled to property or impacted by proceedings is such an interested person and should be allowed to participate in any proceedings thereon. §§ 731.201(23) and 733.212(1), Fla. Stat. (2017). Likewise, the Florida Probate Code specifically contemplates participation in summary administration by the grantee or transferee of any interest in property of the estate at issue. § 735.203(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (2017).

In Hayes v. Guardianship of Thompson, 952 So. 2d 498, 507 (Fla. 2006), the Supreme Court recognized a fluid definition of a probate “interested person” that “may vary from time to time and must be determined according to the particular purpose of, and matter involved in, any proceedings.” Hayes at 507; Wheeler v. Powers, 972 So. 2d 285, 288 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) (holding that an attorney who prepared a testator’s previous will documents had standing to contest the validity of a subsequent will disinheriting a third party).

The Court discussed that a would-be litigant need only show that he reasonably expects to be affected by the outcome of the proceedings, either directly or indirectly, to have standing. Hayes at 505; Wheeler at 288.[1]

Thus, where an administration centers around rights to certain property, any person who can show they have a real interest that will be materially affected by the property’s transfer and administration should be able to intervene, claim, and participate. Such interests may include situations where your current ownership interest in the property will be impacted by the administration, or the probate court already allowed participation of similarly situated persons. §§ 731.201(23), 733.212(1), 733.109(1), and 735.203(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (2017); Hayes at 505; Wheeler at 288; Agee at 885; Delbrouck at 933; Zelman at 877; App. 1–115.

If you have questions about your claim to an estate or your right to participate in an estate administration, please contact Bernhard Law Firm at 786-871-3349, www.bernhardlawfirm.com, abernhard@bernhardlawfirm.com.Bernhard Law Firm

 

[1] See also Agee v. Brown, 73 So. 3d 882, 885 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (holding attorney who was alternative representative in prior will had standing to challenge the lower court’s administration thereof); Delbrouck v. Eberling, 226 So. 3d 929, 933 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017) (holding one of decedent’s three sons was an interested person with standing to address revocation of probate); Zelman v. Zelman, 175 So. 3d 871, 877 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) (holding wife was entitled to notice of petition and participate in underlying hearings, as a due process right).

 

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2 thoughts on “When Friends, Family, and Colleagues Pass Away, Can I Claim in Their Estate?

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