Florida Estates and Timely Creditor Claims
What is a reasonably ascertainable creditor in a Florida probate proceeding? How does a creditor give the personal representative of a Florida estate notice of his or her claim? What does the personal representative have to do to properly determine creditors? What happens if a creditor files a claim against a West Palm beach estate after the claim period?
Florida Estate Proceedings: Notice to Creditors
If you are serving as the personal representative of a Florida estate, you will have to comply with Florida Statute, section 733.2121. Therefore, as personal representative, you must properly publish Notice to Creditors and make a diligent search to determine creditors. To ensure that the Notice to Creditors is properly published, it is important to read the relevant statute in its entirety and to consult with your Florida probate attorney.
Furthermore, in any probate matter, it is very important to know filing deadlines. Under Florida Statute 733.702(1), creditors must file any statements of claim against a decedent’s estate within three months of the first publication of the notice to creditors or within thirty days of being served with it, whichever is later. Any claim not filed within that time is barred unless the court grants an extension.733.702(3), Florida Statutes(2012). Extensions can be granted “upon ground of fraud, estoppel, or insufficient notice of the claims period.”
Florida courts take deadlines very seriously. If you believe that you have a creditor claim against a Florida estate, you should begin interviewing estate lawyers and get your claim filed immediately. If you fail to file a creditor claim within the statutory time frame, your claim can be struck as untimely by a Florida court.
Cantero v. Estate of Caswell
A recent Third DCA opinion, Cantero v. Estate of Caswell, demonstrates just how important it is to file a creditor claim timely. This Florida estate case involves an alleged creditor who filed a claim against the estate after the claim period expired.
Here, Cantero appeals the trial court’s order granting the motion to strike his claim against the Florida estate as untimely. Cantero filed his claim nearly fourth months after the expiration of the creditor claim period. He asserted that he was a reasonable ascertainable creditor entitled to personal service of Notice to Creditors and, because he did not receive personal service of it, his claim was not time-barred.
However, the trial court determined that the personal representative of the estate complied with the requirements of section 733.2121 and that Cantero’s claim was not reasonably ascertainable. Therefore, it struck the claim as untimely. The Third DCA affirmed the trial court’s decision.
If you believe you are a creditor of a Florida estate, or if you wish to sue an estate, you should consider interviewing a West Palm Beach probate lawyer who can advise you as to what your rights are. To interview Florida probate litigator John Pankauski,call (561)268-0233 ext.101.