Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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After Harry Jones died, a notice to creditors was published. Neither Harry’s ex-wife, Katherine Jones, nor her guardian was ever served with a copy of the notice. Less than two years after Harry’s death, the guardian of Katherine, Edwards Golden, filed a statement of claim in the probate court asserting that Harry’s estate owed Katherine money based on a marital settlement agreement. Katherine subsequently died, and Golden was appointed as the curator of her estate. The probate court struck Golden’s claim as untimely. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded to the probate court to determine whether Katherine or her guardianship was a known or reasonably ascertainable creditor. Specifically, the court ruled that if a known or reasonably ascertainable creditor is never served with a copy of the notice to creditors, the creditor’s claim is timely if filed within two years of the decedent’s death. The Supreme Court approved of the Fourth District’s decision, holding that the three-month limitations period prescribed in Fla. Stat. 733.702(1) is not applicable to known or reasonably ascertainable creditors who are never served with a copy of the notice to creditors, and the claims of such creditors are timely if filed within two years of the decedent’s death under Fla. Stat. 733.710. View "Jones v. Golden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Ann Aldrich died before having revised her will to dispose of an inheritance she received from her sister. Ann’s husband, James Aldrich, argued that the most appropriate construction of the will was that Ann intended for the property she had acquired from her sister to pass to him. Ann’s nieces disagreed with James’s construction of the will. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of James pursuant to the purported authority of Fla. Stat. 732.6005(2), which provides that a will shall be construed to pass all property that the testator owned at death, including property acquired after the will is executed. The First District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that section 732.6005(2) did not control because the disputed property was not alluded to in the will and, therefore, it was irrelevant whether it was acquired before or after the will was executed. The Supreme Court approved the decision of the First District, holding that section 732.6005 does not require construing a will as disposing of property not named or in any way described in the will, despite the absence of any residuary clause, or any other clause disposing of the property, where the decedent acquired the property in question after the will was executed. View "Aldrich v. Basile" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Plaintiff, individually and in her capacity as the personal representative of the estate of Lance Ruble, sought to amend the original complaint filed in this action before Respondents served an answer to that complaint. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff's amended complaint, and the court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed based on its holding in Capone v. Phillip Morris USA, Inc. (Capone II) and Boca Burger, Inc. v. Forum, holding (1) when an injured Plaintiff in a personal injury action dies, the personal representative of the decedent's estate is not required to file a separate wrongful death action but may be added as a party to the pending action and thus may file an amended pleading that alleges new claims and causes of action; and (2) the right of a plaintiff under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(a) to amend a complaint once before the service of a responsive pleading is absolute, and a trial court has no discretion to deny that amendment. Remanded. View "Ruble v. Rinker Material Corp." on Justia Law

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Frank and Karen Capone filed an action against Philip Morris USA, a tobacco manufacturer, alleging several claims. After Frank died, Karen, in her capacity as personal representative of Frank's estate, sought to amend the complaint to add a wrongful death claim. Karen also filed a motion to substitute herself as a party plaintiff. The circuit court denied Karen's motions and dismissed the entire action, concluding that the personal injury action in this case could not be amended to include a wrongful death action. Although the circuit court, upon reconsideration, granted Karen's previously-filed motions, it vacated that order, finding Karen's motion for reconsideration was not timely served. The court of appeal affirmed, holding that the original personal injury action filed by the Capones could not be amended after Frank's death to include a wrongful death claim. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District, holding that upon the death of a party plaintiff in a personal injury action, the personal representative of the decedent's estate may be added to the pending action as a party and thus may file an amended pleading that alleges new or amended claims and causes of action. Remanded. View "Capone v. Philip Morris USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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A nursing home patient (Decedent) signed an agreement providing for arbitration of disputes arising out of treatment and care at the nursing home. Decedent subsequently died, allegedly through the nursing home's negligence. Through Decedent's personal representative, Decedent's survivors (Plaintiffs) subsequently brought a cause of action for deprivation of rights under the applicable nursing home statute and, alternatively, a wrongful death action. At issue on appeal was whether an arbitration agreement signed by the decedent requires his estate and heirs to arbitrate their wrongful death claims. The court of appeal concluded that the estate and heirs were bound by the arbitration agreement but certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Court approved of the court of appeal's decision and answered that the execution of a nursing home arbitration agreement by a patient with capacity to contract binds the patient's estate and statutory heirs in a subsequent wrongful death action arising from an alleged tort within the scope of the valid arbitration agreement. View "Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, as personal representative of her uncle's estate, filed a complaint against respondent alleging negligence and breach of fiduciary duties. Respondent moved to compel arbitration based on an agreement petitioner had signed on her uncle's admission. The court held that the district court erred in failing to rule that the court, not the arbitrator, must decide whether the arbitration agreement violated public policy. The court also held that the district court erred in failing to rule that the limitations of remedies provisions in this case violated public policy, for they undermined specific statutory remedies created by the Legislature. The court further held that the district court erred in ruling that the limitations of remedies provisions that called for imposition of the American Health Lawyer Association rules was severable. The court finally concluded that the United States Supreme Court's recent decision in Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson was inapplicable. View "Shotts, etc. v. OP Winter Haven, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This case arose when respondent, a resident of New York, filed a petition for administration asserting that he was entitled to be appointed personal representative of the estate of the decedent because he was the decedent's stepson and was nominated as personal representative in the will. At issue was whether an objection to the qualifications of a personal representative of an estate was barred by the three-month filing deadline set forth in section 733.212(3), Florida Statutes, a provision of the Florida Probate Code, when the objection was not filed within the statutory time frame. The court held that section 733.212(3) barred an objection to the qualifications of a personal representative, including an objection that the personal representative was never qualified to serve, if the objection filed under this statute, except where fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct with regard to the qualifications was not apparent on the face of the petition or discovered within the statutory time frame. Accordingly, because fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct was not alleged in relation to the objection to the personal representative in this case, the court approved the decision of the First District Court. The court also held that, to the extent that the decision of the Third District Court in Angelus v. Pass involved allegations of fraud or misrepresentation not revealed in the petition for administration, the court approved the result in Angelus. However, the court disapproved Angelus to the extent that it held section 733.212(3) did not bar objections that a personal representative was never qualified to serve. View "Hill v. Davis, Etc." on Justia Law