Florida Probate Statute 733.208: Discovery of Later Will
When someone passes away in Florida, the process for distributing his (or her) assets begins with the personal representative nominated in the will submits the will to the Florida probate court along with a petition for probate. The court will admit the will after confirming that it is indeed authentic. However, there are instances in which after a will has been admitted to probate, a later will is discovered. Such a discovery complicates the administration process that is already underway, and would certainly necessitate the help of a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate attorney who understands the requirements of the Florida Probate Code, including the rules in Florida Statutes, section 733.208- Discovery of later will.Initiating Probate
Probate is the process of settling the estate of someone who has passed away, and distributing that person’s assets to his (or her) beneficiaries, if there is a will, or heirs, if there is not a will. In the case of a testate decedent, probate is initiated when someone files the will in the appropriate circuit court. The person filing the will and petition the court to admit it to probate is typically the person named in the will to serve as personal representative. The personal representative must give notice to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. He must also publish a notice in local papers in order to alert the decedent’s creditors. The will then must be proved. If the will is self-proving, it will be admitted to probate, otherwise the court will call witnesses to testify as to the authenticity of the will.
As a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer will explain, if the court is satisfied that the will is authentic, and no one files an objection to probate, the court will admit it to probate.Discovery of Later Will
After a will has been admitted to probate and the administration process is well underway, someone may come forward with a document that appears to be a later-dated will of the decedent. If this happens, an interested party has the right to petition the probate court to either revoke probate of the earlier will, or to petition the court to probate the later will. An interested party is anyone who would be impacted by the outcome of the proceeding. Typically this would be the personal representative, beneficiaries, beneficiaries under the later will, and next of kin.
The court must review the petition and rule on it. However, according to Florida Statutes, section 733.208- Discovery of later will., the court will not entertain such a petition if the decedent’s estate has been completely administered and the court has discharged the personal representative.Revocation of Probate
The Florida Probate Code provides that upon petition by an interested party, the court may revoke probate for good cause as long as the final discharge of the personal representative has not occurred. The reason for petitioning to revoke probate can be for a number of reasons, including the discovery of a later valid will. A petition to revoke probate would certainly be surprising to some of those who have an interest in the estate, including the personal representative. However, as an experienced probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale will explain, while the petition for revocation of probate is pending, the personal representative is required to continue his (or her) administrative duties. In other words, if someone petitions the court to revoke probate because of discovery of later will, while the court is considering the petition, the personal representative is required to continue administering the estate. The only thing that he (or she) is not permitted to do is distribute assets if doing so would impact the rights of those challenging probate.
If the court orders that probate is to be revoked, valid transactions that the personal representative completed prior to the revocation of probate will not be impacted as long as the transactions were completed in good faith from the personal representative prior to an order of revocation.Example
Jerry died and his personal representative, Randy, submitted the Jerry’s will to probate. Little did Randy know, Jerry executed another will a few years before his death. The later will also named Randy as the personal representative. However, the new will had some major differences as to how estate property was to be distributed. In the older will, Jerry ordered that his house be sold and the proceeds go to his two nieces. In the later will Jerry left the house to his nephew. Randy sold the house to Nancy as permitted by the older will.
The later will was discovered, and a petition was filed to revoke probate. Ultimately, the court did revoke probate of the older will and admitted the new will to probate. The nephew demanded that the sale of the house be reversed. As a probate attorney serving Fort Lauderdale would explain, the sale of the house would not be reversed since Randy acted in good faith in selling the house to Nancy.Related Statutory Provisions
- Revocation of probate : § 733.109, Fla. Stat.
- Establishment and probate of lost or destroyed will : § 733.207, Fla. Stat.
- Discovery of later will : § 733.208, Fla. Stat.
- Notice of administration; filing of objections : § 733.212, Fla. Stat.
On the discovery of a later will or codicil, any interested person may petition to revoke the probate of the earlier will or to probate the later will or codicil. No will or codicil may be offered after the testate or intestate estate has been completely administered and the personal representative discharged.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing personal representatives, beneficiaries, heirs, and other parties in complex matters related to probate and administration of estates. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of a personal representative including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.208- Discovery of later will., we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.