Importance of Providing Notice in Probate Cases

Monday, November 16, 2015

For years the district courts were split in determining whether an individual or entity should be notified of a pending estate. 

For example, in Morgenthau v. Andzel, and in Lubee v. Adams, the First District Court of Appeal and the Second District Court of Appeal both agreed and held that even if a reasonable ascertainable creditor was not served with a copy of a Notice of Creditors, then that creditor would be required to file a claim within three months after the first publication of Notice to Creditors, unless that creditor filed a motion for extension of time.
On the other hand, in Golden v. Jones, the Fourth District Court of Appeal disagreed with the First and Second District Courts of Appeals and held that if a known or reasonable ascertainable creditor was never served with a copy of a Notice to Creditors, then the requirement to file a claim within the three months after the first publication of Notice to Creditors does not apply. Furthermore, if the claim was filed within two years, the creditor’s claim would be considered timely.
To eliminate the split authority between the Circuits, the Florida Supreme Court reviewed the Golden case and concluded:
Because we conclude that the limitations periods prescribed in section 733.702(1) are not applicable to known or reasonably ascertainable creditors who are never served with a copy of the notice to creditors and that the claims of such creditors are timely if filed within two years of the decedent’s death under section 733.710, we approve the decision of the Fourth District in Golden and disapprove the decisions of the First and Second Districts in Morgenthau and Lubee. 
So what should you take from this recent Florida Supreme Court decision? If you personally are owed money or your company is owed money, you should immediately provide written Notice of the outstanding debt to the spouse or relatives of the decedent. Otherwise, you as the creditor of the decedent’s Estate, risk not being paid by the Estate.
Mark Lang & Associates 11/16/2015

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