Understanding Florida Beneficiary Rights
A devisee or heir has a number of Florida beneficiary rights under Florida estate law. These are some of the most basic estate and probate rights. These rights are set for the Florida estate statutes and the rules of the Florida probate court. The experienced probate and estate lawyers at our Vero Beach and Sebastian offices can explain and protect your rights.
Common Florida beneficiary rights
Right to receive a notice of Florida probate
A beneficiary, either by will or by statute, has the right to be informed that a personal representative has been appointed. The notice should include the right to contest the will or the appointment of the personal representative.
Right to a resolution of their interests
Florida beneficiary rights include the right to petition the probate court to understand exactly who is entitled to receive a distribution from the estate and what share and amount the beneficiary is entitled to receive
Right to request the removal of the personal representative
A beneficiary can request the removal of a personal representative for many reasons. Examples include not acquiring the assets, not paying the taxes, and not paying creditors. It can include fraud. Some beneficiaries will claim the executor or administrator is not moving fast.
Right to contest the validity of the will
You can contest a will based on undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity. Undue influence means the senior was in a position of influence over the testator. It also requires that the person uses this influence to get more in the will than is normal. Testamentary capacity means the senior didn’t understand what he was signing. It also means not understanding his or her assets.
You can also contest it if there was a valid codicil to the will or if there was another Original Will drafted at a later date.
Right to the fair market value of any asset
Fair market value is what a willing buyer would pay and a willing buyer would sell the asset for.
Right to see an inventory and accounting of the estate assets
Beneficiary rights include the right to petition to see the inventory, a preliminary list of the assets. It also includes a preliminary value of the assets.
Beneficiary rights also include the right to compel an accounting lists all the money that comes in. It identifies the source of the money. An accounting also lists the expenses. Expenses include court costs, legal fees, and executor’s fees. The accounting also includes taxes and payments to creditors. The accounting should balance. This means the net sum in the account that is distributable should match the assets and payments.
Right to object to the formal accounting
A beneficiary does not have to automatically accept the accounting of the personal representative. So, he/she has the right to contest:
- The accuracy of the accounting
- Any administration fees including payments to personal representatives
- Certain payments such as payments to creditors as being unnecessary or more than is necessary.
Right to a determination whether real property is protected from creditors through the homestead exemption
The Florida Constitution, Article 10, Section 4 and also the Florida probate rules authorize this exemption
Right to know of any litigation against the estate
Since lawsuits can affect the share of the beneficiary, beneficiaries have the right to be know of lawsuits; by beneficiaries, creditors or others.
In some cases, beneficiary rights may also include the right to petition for an interim distribution of the estate. A petition, for example, may be appropriate if it’s taking the personal representative too long to resolve issues.