When is a Disclaimer of an Interest in a Florida Estate Invalid?
How can a person give up his or her inheritance rights in Florida? What can I do if my mom left me a house in a will and I don’t want to inherit it? Can I sign away my rights to an inheritance? When should I hire a Florida probate lawyer? What is a disclaimer of interest? if you are involved in a probate or trust dispute, you may want to read a January 23, 2019 Third DCA opinion, Lee v. Lee.
Lee v. Lee
Here, Nicole Lee disclaimed her interest in the decedent’s Florida estate. She did so by executing a document prepared by the personal representative’s attorney. This document was called ” Disclaimer of Interest in Property of Estate.” The disclaimer was properly witnessed and notarized.
However, when the personal representative of the Florida estate filed a petition for discharge seeking distribution of the estate’s assets, Ms. Lee objected. She argued that the disclaimer she had executed was not valid. The probate court court determined that the disclaimer was not valid.
The probate court explained that the disclaimer was legally insufficient under section 739.104(3) of the Florida Statutes and violative of the statute of frauds because the disclaimer did not identify the real property being disclaimed.
Florida Statute 739.104(3) explains what is required for a Florida disclaimer of property to be effective. The following must be met:
- The disclaimer must be in writing
- The disclaimer must declare that the writing is a disclaimer
- The disclaimer must describe the interest or power being disclaimed
- The disclaimer must be signed by the person making the disclaimer
- The disclaimer must be witnessed and acknowledged by a manner provided for by deed of real estate
- The disclaimer must be delivered in the manner provided in section 739.301 of the Florida Statutes.
The appellate court reversed and remanded. Why did this Florida appeals court disagree with the probate court? Why did the appellate court find the disclaimer to be valid in this Florida inheritance case? To get these answers, read Lee v. Lee in it’s entirety.
If you are involved in a probate dispute or trust matter, consider interviewing a law firm that specializes in Florida estate and trust litigation. To interview a probate attorney at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, free of charge, call (561)514-0900 ext. 101.