Giller v. Giller

Giller v. Giller, 190 So.3d 666 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016)

This case involved whether a personal representative has the right to bring a suit for declaratory action under F.S. 689.07(1), which deals with real estate deed and conveyances which add the words "trustee" or "as trustee" to the name of the grantee, or whether relief under that section is limited only to subsequent purchasers or others relying on the deed.

The personal representatives brought their declaratory action in the probate proceeding after learning of the existence of six parcels of real property titled in the name of the decedent "as trustee."  They sought a declaration from the probate court that the parcels were owned by the decedent in fee simple and that the properties became assets of the estate after his death.  Their brother argued that they lacked standing to sue under F.S. 689.07(1) because that section does not apply until after a subsequent conveyance of the property takes place.  

The trial court agreed with the brother and dismissed the declaratory action.  The Court reversed the dismissal, holding that F.S. 689.07(1) does not state that its application is limited to benefit "subsequent parties," nor does the case law support such a conclusion.  Because personal representatives are given the ability to bring an action on the estate's behalf and are charged with the obligation to take possession of the decedent's property for purposes of administration, the Court held that the personal representative's action for declaratory relief stated a legally sufficient cause of action under F.S. 689.07(1).

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