It is common in my practice that clients come to see me without knowledge of whether a friend or loved one has made a will appointing a personal representative or whether they are beneficiaries of that person’s estate. In some instances, this may be the case because a family member has taken control of the decedent’s affairs and is unwilling to communicate with family and friends or share any such information. Additionally, perhaps an individual owes you money and you wish to know if an estate is opened so that you can file a creditor claim and seek repayment.
Under the circumstances listed above, it can be advisable to speak with an attorney regarding the filing a caveat to ensure notice of any probate proceedings. A caveat will allow an interested person to receive notice upon the filing of a will or the issuance of Letters of Administration so that they may be participate in any such action. Any interested party may file a caveat. An interested party is someone who may be reasonably be expected to be effected by the outcome of the particular proceeding. Fla. Stat. §731.201(23). The most common interested parties that file caveats are spouses, family members, relatives, friends, and creditors. A caveat may be filed by an interested party before or after the person’s death, however, if the caveator is a creditor, the creditor may only file after someone’s death. A caveat filed before a person’s death expires two (2) years after filing.
A caveat must follow the requirements codified in Florida Statute §731.110 and Florida Probate Rule 5.260. The caveat must contain the following: (1) the name of the person for whom the estate will be, or is being administered; (2) the last four digits of the persons social security number or year of birth, if known; (3) a statement of the interest of the caveator in the proceeding; and (4) the name and specific mailing address of the caveator. If the caveator is not a resident of Florida, they must designate an agent in the county where the caveat is filed to accept service on their behalf such as a Florida licensed attorney.
Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where a caveat would help give you the notice and information you need in a probate proceeding, contact our firm and an experienced Florida attorney can ensure such action would meet your individual needs.