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Florida Probate Statute 733.815: Private Contracts Among Interested Persons

One of the key purposes of advance estate planning is to retain control over what happens to your assets once you pass away. By writing a will and other estate documents such as a trust, you can make it very clear as to who gets the various parts of your estate. In the absence of a will, the state of Florida determines who gets your property. However, despite your plans and the Florida’s rules, beneficiaries and heirs can make “side” agreements regarding property distribution. To learn more about the rules related to probate asset distribution and making changes to distribution directives, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.815- Private contracts among interested persons, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have extensive experience representing clients in complex estate matters and have the knowledge and resources to help.

Distribution of Estate Assets

A last will and testament is a statement by a testator that gives directions on how his (or her) personal representative should settle his estate once he passes away. A testator can make specific bequests which are gifts of particular items of property. For example, a will might say, “I give my SUV to my daughter, Sylvia Jones, if she survives me,” or “I give my coin collection to my grandson, Henry, if he survives me.” A specific gift can also be real property. For example, a will might say:

“I give my house at 111 Walnut Street, City of Fort Lauderdale, State of Florida, and legally described as ‘Lot 1, Block 1’ to my niece, Rhonda Smith, if she survives me.”

Under Florida law, as long as the will was written an executed in accordance with Florida law, the terms of a will are legally enforceable. This means that subject to the payment of estate debt, expenses, and taxes, the personal representative must distribute estate assets based on testator’s wishes as memorialized in the will. To learn more about how to create a legally enforceable last will and testament, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate lawyer.

In the absence of a will, the probate court will appoint a personal representative to administer your estate and distribute your assets based on the rules of intestate succession.

Private Contracts Among Interested Parties

Despite clear instructions in a will and the rules of intestate succession, there is a process by which beneficiaries, heirs, and other interested parties can alter how an estate is distributed. Under FL. Stat, section 733.815- Private contracts among interested persons, interested persons may make agreements among themselves to alter the interests, shares, or amounts to which they are legally entitled under a will or based on Florida law. And “interested person” is anyone who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved. In an estate proceeding, interested parties would include beneficiaries, legal heirs, and the personal representative. Such a private agreement must be in writing and signed by all parties involved.

The personal representative must abide by the terms of the contract, to the extent that is does not conflict with his obligation to administer the estate for the benefit of interested persons who are not parties to the contract. In addition, such a contract is subject to the rights of creditors and taxing authorities.

Example

Josh passed away leaving a house to his niece, Kim, and an unimproved piece of property to his other niece, Lori. Each piece of property was worth roughly $300,000. Lori had always loved the house that Josh left Kim. So she asked Kim if she would swap the house for the land. Kim quickly agreed. With the help of an experienced estate attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Lori and Kim executed an agreement to essentially swap their testamentary gifts. They presented a copy of their agreement to the personal representative of Josh’s estate. When it was time to distribute the assets from the estate, Josh transferred title of the house to Lori, and title to the land to Kim.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Purchasers from distributees protected: § 733.813, Fla. Stat.
  2. Partition for purpose of distribution: § 733.814, Fla. Stat.
  3. Disposition of unclaimed property held by personal representatives: § 733.816, Fla. Stat.
  4. Apportionment of estate taxes: § 733.817, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.815- Private Contracts Among Interested Persons

Subject to the rights of creditors and taxing authorities, interested persons may agree among themselves to alter the interests, shares, or amounts to which they are entitled in a written contract executed by them. The personal representative shall abide by the terms of the contract, subject to the personal representative’s obligation to administer the estate for the benefit of interested persons who are not parties to the contract, and to pay costs of administration. Trustees of a testamentary trust are interested persons for the purposes of this section. Nothing in this section relieves trustees of any duties owed to beneficiaries of trusts

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Distribution of estate assets can be complicated. Some complications happen because beneficiaries are not satisfied with their distributions. It is important that the personal representative understand options to resolve issues that might develop during the course of estate administration, including the option described in Florida Statutes, section 733.815- Private contracts among interested persons. For assistance in resolving issues that develop during estate administration, contact an experienced estate attorney serving Fort Lauderdale at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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