What Happens if the Personal Representative of a Florida Estate Does Not Properly Provide Notice to Creditors?
What are the responsibilities of a personal representative in Florida when it comes to creditor claims? Does a personal representative need to publish Notice to Creditors? How does a personal representative determine the creditors of a Florida estate?
Florida Statute 733.2121 and 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 estate attorney.
Once the personal representative has provided Notice to Creditors, a clock begins to tick for the creditors who wish to file a claim. Therefore, if you believe that you have a claim against a Florida estate, it is important to get moving! 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.
Palm Beach probate lawyers know that 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.” Therefore, if the personal representative of a Florida estate fails to properly give notice to a reasonably ascertainable creditor, that creditor may be able to file a claim even after the deadline has passed.
Recent Florida Creditor Claim Litigation
An October 2, 2019 Third DCA opinion, Cantero v. Estate of Caswell, is a great example of a case involving an untimely creditor claim. Here, an alleged creditor filed a claim four months after the expiration of the creditor claim period. He argued that he was a reasonable ascertainable creditor who did not receive personal service of Notice to Creditors as he should have. Therefore, due to the personal representative’s failure to provide him with proper notice, his claim should not be time-barred. This alleged creditor was claiming that he was entitled to all of the sale proceeds from a property of the decedent’s.
In this Florida probate lawsuit, the question was whether or not the personal representative complied with the requirements of Florida Statute 733.2121. The personal representative testified that he diligently searched the property in question and found no paperwork regarding this creditor’s alleged interest in it. Furthermore, the personal representative explained that he had spoken to the alleged creditor twice but the alleged creditor never mentioned having any interest in the property. The decedent also had a will that did not mention anything about this alleged creditor or his interest.
The trial court determined that the personal representative had complied with the statute and that neither the personal representative nor his attorney were on actual notice of this alleged creditor’s interest in the property or claim. Therefore, because it was filed untimely, the alleged creditor’s claim was barred. The Florida appellate court affirmed.
If you are involved in Florida litigation regarding creditor claims, you may want to speak with an experienced attorney who’s practice focuses on probate disputes and inheritance lawsuits. Choosing a West Palm Beach probate lawyer who is very knowledgeable about estate matters can prove to be a huge advantage to you in the courtroom. If you would like to interview an estate lawyer at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, free of charge, call (561)514-0900 ext.101.