Florida Probate Statute 733.812: Improper Distribution or Payment; Liability of Distributee or Payee
In Florida, distribution of assets from a decedent’s estate of a decedent is often complicated for a variety of reasons. One complication is where there is an improper distribution of estate assets. Florida law requires that the mistake be fixed and that they distributee return the property that was improperly distributed. If you have questions or concerns related to asset distribution, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.812- Improper distribution or payment; liability of distributee or payee, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 2 decades of experience representing clients facing difficulties related to estate administration and probate, we have the knowledge and resources to ensure make sure your legal rights are protected.Estate Administration Process
Before the assets in an estate can be transferred to the beneficiaries, the personal representative must address estate debt. First he must notify creditors by sending personal notices of the probate proceeding to known creditors and by publishing notices in local papers to make sure that even creditors who are not known to the personal representative are notified. Creditors have a short period of time to file claims—no more than 3 months and as little as 30 days from the date of the notification.
When the debts and expenses are paid, the personal representative can distribute the property that remains in the estate.Improper Distribution
During the asset distribution, unfortunately, there are instances in which there are problems with how assets are distributed. For example, the personal representative may distribute assets to the wrong beneficiary. Another example, would be where the personal representative distributed an asset prior to debts and expenses being paid, resulting in there being insufficient assets in the estate to pay debt.
Under FL. Stat, section 733.812- Improper distribution or payment; liability of distributee or payee, if a distributee is paid improperly, he (or she) must return those property to the estate. He must also return any income from those assets or interest on the funds since distribution or payment. If the distributee has since sold the property or for some other reasons no longer has the property, he must return to the estate its value at the date of disposition, along with income, and gain received by the distributee. The same rules apply to a claimant who improperly received a distribution from an estate.
The only exception to this rule is in instances where the distribution or payment cannot be questioned because of adjudication, estoppel, or limitations. To discuss the specifics of your case, contact an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale.Example
Lola passed away. In her will she left property to her nephews, Bill and Bob. She left her residual estate to her cousin, Tom. Her executor was another cousin, Phil. While Lola had substantial assets, she also had substantial debt. Phil went about the activities of inventorying the estate, notifying creditors, and paying debt and expenses. Bill, Bob, and Tom were anxious to get their distributions and pressed Phil about moving the process along. Even though all debts had not been paid and all claim reviewed, he determined that there was sufficient assets in the estate to pay all debt and distributions. So he went ahead and distributed to Bill, Bob, and Tom.
It turned out that there was not enough money left to pay the estate debts. Under Florida law, the personal representative should have applied the abatement rules to determine how to reduce the amount of the distributions in order to pay the debt. In this case, the assets in the residual estate should have been used to pay debt. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer will explain, Tom, as the residuary beneficiary, would be required to return to the estate the portion of his distribution required to pay the debt because he received that distribution improperly. This situation could have been avoided if Phil had first paid all debt before distributing assetsRelated Statutory Provisions
- Delivery of devises and distributive shares: § 733.801, Fla. Stat.
- Distribution in kind; valuation: § 733.810, Fla. Stat.
- Distribution; right or title of distributee: § 733.811, Fla. Stat.
- Purchasers from distributees protected: § 733.813, Fla. Stat.
A distributee or a claimant who was paid improperly must return the assets or funds received, and the income from those assets or interest on the funds since distribution or payment, unless the distribution or payment cannot be questioned because of adjudication, estoppel, or limitations. If the distributee or claimant does not have the property, its value at the date of disposition, income thereon, and gain received by the distributee or claimant must be returned.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Estate administration is a complex process, subject to the requirements of Florida’s Probate Code. Unfortunately, there are instances when errors mistake happen. It is critical that such mistakes as cured as required by law. If you have concerns about improper asset distribution, including questions about applying the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.812- Improper distribution or payment; liability of distributee or payee, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced estate administration attorney serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with personal representative and other interested parties in all aspects of estate administration including asset distribution. We can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.