One of the purposes of the probate process is to manage debts owed to creditors of the deceased andto see that creditors are paid – to the extent that is legally and financially possible. The legal procedurefor probate provides a process to manage and cut off claims against the deceased that are filed morethan three months after the publication of a Notice To Creditors in the newspaper, or more than thirtydays after service of the Notice on a creditor, if that is later. Most debts of the deceased are barred andunenforceable after two years from the date of death. Recently the Second District Court of Appeals inFlorida issued a ruling that emphasizes the need to properly follow the claim procedure if you are owedmoney by the deceased. Watch the dates as you read the following paragraph.
Edward Caulfield died on December 18, 2006. A probate administration was started and on November16, 2007, a Notice To Creditors was published. The court opinion dos not explain why so much timewent by before publication. Under Florida law the end of the creditor claim filing period was February16, 2008. A creditor, Mr. Lubee, filed a late claim on December 18, 2008, ten (10) months after theclose of the claim filing period. Note, this is the point after which the two year bar on collection of adecedent’s debts also takes effect. Then Mr. Lubee sued the estate on February 5, 2009, no doubtbecause payment had not been forthcoming. Judgment was entered in favor of the estate at the CircuitCourt level and affirmed on appeal. Why? Because Mr. Lubee didn’t file a claim within the three monthsand never asked the probate court for permission to file a late claim within two years of the death ofMr. Caulfield.
On February 29, 2012 the Second District Court of Appeals issued an opinion involving the appointment of a Personal Representative (sometimes referred to as an executor or administrator) for the estate of a decedent who died without a Will. When a decedent has made a valid Will, this document will normally nominate a person or bank to be Personal Representative. What happens when there is no Will?
The Florida Probate Code specifies that there is a priority of preference that is to be followed in determining who will be Personal Representative. A surviving spouse comes first, followed by a person who is selected by a majority in interest of the heirs. A “majority in interest” means a person or combination of people who get at least 51% of the value of the assets of the estate. The third preference is an heir nearest in degree (meaning essentially the closest relative or someone from a group of people who all have the same relationship to the decedent).
In Florida the types of Probate procedures are:
Summary Administration can be utilized if the value of the estate is $75,000.00 or if the decedent is dead for more than two years. The persons who receive the estate assets remain liable to creditors of the decedent for two years after date of death unless a Notice to Creditors is published.
Estate Administration is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. Probate assets are properties that were owned by the decedent that were not owned “jointly” with survivorship rights by another. Non-probate assets are property held in a revocable trust, joint assets, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, homestead property, automobiles, boats, etc. Some assets do not go through probate but are considered part of the estate for federal estate tax purposes, therefore if an estate is taxable, a Form 706 must be filed.
CAPE CORAL, Fla. (September 25, 2012) Liridona Sinani has joined the attorneys at Martin Law Firm announced firm principal, Steven E. Martin.
Liridona Sinani’s practice focuses primarily on family law, probate litigation and general civil litigation.
Liridona earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, with Cum Laude honors, in Political Science and International Affairs and a minor in Political Philosophy from Florida State University, where she received a full scholarship to complete her studies. It was her interest in these fields that led her to pursue an Internship at the Executive Office of the Governor in Tallahassee, FL and to later travel to Hague, Netherlands and Strasbourg, France to examine the inner workings of major international courts and tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.