Who inherits from a Florida estate if you are not sure if the deceased person is your parent? Well, Florida law permits you to ask a Probate Judge to determine if you are a child. Many times, after someone dies, adult children come to the estate and suggest that they are a child. They want to inherit or have LEGAL STANDING to Contest The Will. A child might inherit under a POUR OVER WILL, from an intestate estate, or even from a Florida Trust. We have written about a Petition to Determine Heirs before. Now, you can read an April 1, 2021 opinion from Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal on Florida Heirship. And what it takes to establish paternity. (Hint: it takes more than having a person’s name on your birth certificate.)
How to Inherit If There Is No Florida Will
If there is no Florida will, we say that the Florida Probate is an INTESTATE ESTATE. You can read the Florida Probate Code laws on an Intestate Estate by clicking HERE. Heirs inherit when there is no will in Florida. We previously posted free Florida probate commentary on Heirs . That link includes a consideration of who is a Florida Heir? You can also read more here.
Florida Heirship Appeal: April 1, 2021
In this April 1, 2021 Florida Heirship appeal, a Personal Representative/ Appellant, won. His appeal victory caused a reversal of a summary judgment (probate court) ruling. The Probate Judge found an adult claiming to be a child was an “heir” and had standing to Contest the Will. The adult had a birth certificate. Guess whose name was on the birth certificate as the father? The deceased Florida resident whose estate was being probated in Marion County, Florida. This finding by the Probate Judge created legal standing and possible heirship in a contested probate.
What is an Heir in Florida Probates?
What is an heir? “Heirs” or “heirs at law” means those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent. You can read Fla. Probate Law 732.201. For the Florida Laws of Intestate Succession, CLICK THIS LINK.
The 5th DCA reversed the Marion County Probate Judge’s summary judgment ruling. That ruling found that an adult established paternity under 732.108(2)(c ) and had standing to bring a will contest. That statute deals with probate cases and adopted children and children born out of wedlock. So called non-marital children.
Statute of Limitations for Paternity Suits
Every lawsuit in Florida has a time frame within which you MUST file yoru suit. Letters don’t work. Emails don’t work. This Florida Heirship Appeal dealt with a statute of limitations. Remember: Chapter 95 of the Florida Statutes deals with statutes of limitations. Former Fla. Stat. 95.11(3)(b) ) was the subject of this appeal. The law actually changed. But NOT for this matter. At the trial level, the “acknowledgement of paternity” finding of the trial court was error.
Estate Appellate Lawyers know that Fla. R. App. Proc. 9.180(b)(5) involves a determination of heirship. That appellate rule creates very short windows of time to seek review of orders that can NOT be reviewed at the end of the case. What does it take to prove paternity in a Florida Heirship probate case? More than a father’s name on a birth certificate. And more than references to a daughter in other documents, too.