In an ideal world, our loved one will have written a valid last will and testament, and when he or she dies, the family will know where that will is and also know who was selected to executor of the estate. The person chosen to be the executor (sometimes called an executrix if that person is a woman, or an estate administrator, or personal representative depending upon the state in which the will was drafted) will go the probate court and open an estate.
The executor of the estate will inventory the estate and make an accounting of all debts and assets and provide notice to anyone who is listed in the will as a beneficiary, and also issue notice to all creditors who may still be owed money by the decedent at the time of his or her death. In many cases, the debt will be written off when the person’s whose name it was died, but in some cases, a creditor will still have a right to file a claim with the estate and collect money from the estate. Once all of the debts of the estate have been paid, including medical bills not covered by insurance, and not discharged by the hospital and funeral and burial expenses, the beneficiaries of the estate will be paid out their shares according to the terms of the will. Any property in the estate not specifically mentioned in the will is known as the residuary estate or “res” as it is often called by experienced Broward County probate lawyers, and there will typically be a person in the will who will get this res and they are typically called a res beneficiary. In some cases there will be more than one res beneficiary and these multiple parties will share the res.
However, we do not live in a perfect world, and there are often circumstances were people change their will just before they died and there are questions as to whether they did so under duress or whether they lacked the mental capacity to make those changes. There are also cases where there is nothing wrong with the will, one relative who feels they have been gifted an amount of property which is less than the amount to which they feel they are entitled, and these individuals will do whatever they can do to make trouble for the other beneficiaries in an attempt to secure a larger share of the estate for themselves.
Regardless of the reason for a challenge, anyone who wishes to challenge the administration of a probate estate must do so in a timely manner. Under Florida probate law, as discussed in a recent article from the Houston Chronicle, anyone wishing to file a claim with an estate must do so within 90 days of getting notice from the estate executor that the estate has been opened. In this article a person waited years before trying to do anything, and they were likely time barred from filing any claims. As also discussed in the article, there is sometimes the possibility of filing a direct civil action against an executor who breached his or her fiduciary duty to the estate, but even in these cases, there is a two year statute of limitations to file any action. For this reason, if you feel you have a cause to challenge the administration of an estate, you should contact an experienced Miami-Dade probate lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Statute of limitations in Fla. probate probably doesn’t extend 10 years, July 2, 2018, Houston Chronicle
More Blog Entries:
Estranged Children and Inheritances: Absent Will, They May Stake Claim, April 25, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney Blog