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Showing posts from July, 2018

Crescenzo v. Simpson

Crescenzo v. Simpson, 239 So.3d 213 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018)
Can a court entertain a challenge to a will if that challenge was contained in a document other than a caveat? Here, where the challenging party filed an answer to a petition for administration which contained affirmative defenses disputing the validity of the will and objecting to the appointment of the personal representative, the Court held that the challenges did not have to be contained in a caveat under FPR 5.260 to be addressed by the court.
F.S. 733.110 says that any interested person who is concerned that an estate will be administered or a will admitted to probate without his or her knowledge may file a caveat with the court.  At that point, the probate court cannot admit the will to probate or appoint a personal representative until that challenge is resolved.  FPR 5.260 provides the procedural requirements for filing a caveat- it must include the name of the decedent, the last 4 digits of the decedent's social securi…

Rachins v. Minassian

Rachins v. Minassian, --- So. 3d --- (Fla. 4th DCA 2018)

Subsequent to the Minassian v. Rachins decision, described here, the Court was once again faced with the interpretation of the Zaven Minassian Trust Agreement.  This time, the issue was whether the decedent's children had standing to contest the surviving spouse's administration of a trust for their benefit, where the terms of the trust provide that upon the spouse's death, the trust terminates, and the remaining assets are distributed to new trusts for the children's benefit.
The Court found that the children are both beneficiaries and qualified beneficiaries of the trust. They are beneficiaries, because they have a future beneficial interest in the trust, since any remaining property will be disbursed to a new trust for their benefit.  It held that the fact that the remaining property would flow to a new trust for their benefit instead of outright did not preclude them from being beneficiaries under F.S.  736.010…

Mulvey v. Stephens

Mulvey v. Stephens, --- So.3d --- (Fla. 4th DCA 2018)
In this typical fact pattern, a child from the decedent's first marriage, following a failed attempt to have the decedent's estate planning documents overturned, brought an action against the decedent's second spouse for tortious interference. While she prevailed at trial, the Court overturned the judgment because there was no competent evidence to support a claim for tortious interference with an expectancy.
A claim for tortious interference of a testamentary expectancy requires: (1) the existence of an expectancy, (2) intentional interference with the expectancy through tortious conduct, (3) causation and (4) damages. The claim should only be brought, "if the circumstances surrounding the tortious conduct effectively preclude adequate relief in the probate court."
Here, after a failed will contest, the daughter brought a tortious interference claim against the decedent's second spouse based on what she beli…