≡ Menu
≡ Menu

Understanding Your Florida Beneficiary Rights

In estate and contract law, a “beneficiary” is simply someone who has the legal right to receive the benefits of an instrument or contract.  A beneficiary of a will, for example, has the right to receive distributions of estate assets through the will.  Or a trust’s beneficiary is someone who receives disbursements of trust assets or income—that is, the person the trust is designed to benefit. Similarly, a Florida life insurance policy’s beneficiary holds the right to receive the policy’s payout when it is triggered, and the designated beneficiary of a retirement account automatically accedes to the account upon the owner’s death. Florida beneficiary rights then would concern the right to receive benefits from these kinds of assets in Florida usually distributed from a Florida last will or Florida revocable or irrevocable trust.

Understanding Florida Beneficiary Rights

It’s important to note, though, that the right to receive payments or assets is not the only right enjoyed by beneficiaries.  Under Florida law, beneficiaries are afforded numerous other privileges and protections, depending upon the vehicle through which they stand to benefit.  If you’re a designated beneficiary under a will, trust, insurance policy, or other instrument, a familiarity with all of your legal and contractual rights allows you to better understand and take advantage of your position as a beneficiary.

Rights of Beneficiaries and Heirs in Florida Probate

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between an “heir” and a “beneficiary” in Florida probate law.  A “beneficiary” in a Florida probate is someone named in a will and who has a right or potential right to receive wealth transferred through the will.  An “heir,” on the other hand, stands to inherit—under state intestate succession laws—wealth from a decedent who did not have a will.  Heirs are usually relatives of the decedent, but beneficiaries don’t necessarily have to be.

Although we will primarily use the term “beneficiary,” heirs of intestate estates have most of the same rights as beneficiaries—except when the right specifically relates to a will.  Both heirs and beneficiaries have important “information rights,” or rights to be kept informed as estate administration progresses and notified of certain important events.  Florida beneficiary rights require that Florida beneficiaries must be provided notice that an estate has been opened and that a personal representative has been appointed to act for the estate.  If the estate is involved in any probate or trust litigation in Florida or if any adversary proceedings are commenced, beneficiaries have the right to receive notice and stay informed of the litigation status.

Florida beneficiary rights also require that beneficiaries also have the right to receive an accounting of the estate from the personal representative.  The accounting must include an inventory of all estate assets in Florida and perhaps elsewhere, with each asset’s appraised value, and a statement of all transactions involving the estate.  Transactions will include claims and expenses paid out and any receivables or income that comes in.  If the estate includes a safe deposit box, a beneficiary can also request an accounting of its contents.

A beneficiary has the right to object to certain matters and petition the probate court for clarification of others.  Within 90 days of receiving notice of the estate, a beneficiary can contest a will or appointment of the personal representative.  If the identities or precise inheritances of an estate’s beneficiaries are not clear, potential beneficiaries can petition the court for a determination of either.

Because beneficiaries stand to gain from an estate, they have rights that help ensure estate assets are properly protected.  Beneficiaries can object to claims filed by creditors (though that is usually the personal representative’s duty) and can petition the court for a determination as to whether an asset is exempt, including under Florida’s homestead exemption.

In general, Florida beneficiary rights require that a beneficiary has the right to be treated fairly by the Florida personal representative, who must always act in the best interest of the estate.  If a personal representative is acting improperly, a beneficiary can petition the probate court for removal, contest a personal representative’s claim for compensation if it is unreasonable, or contest a transaction if the personal representative has a conflict of interest.

A beneficiary can expect to receive bequests with reasonable promptness, including through an interim distribution or family allowance when appropriate.  Both allow estate assets to be disbursed while the estate is still pending.  The promptness that a beneficiary can expect varies based on the circumstances of the estate. An estate with substantial assets in Florida, limited creditors, and specific bequests of assets will allow for quicker distributions than an estate that is entangled in litigation, has numerous creditor claims to sort out, and describes inheritances as a percentage of the estate’s value.

In many ways, the duties owed by a personal representative to an estate’s beneficiaries are similar to the duties owed by a trustee to trust beneficiaries. Both a trustee and a personal representative are fiduciaries, charged with putting others’ interests above their own.  So, it isn’t surprising that the beneficiaries of a trust have many of the same rights as an estate’s beneficiaries.

Rights of Trust Beneficiaries in Florida

The rights of a Florida trust beneficiary are largely derived from the duties of the trust’s trustee.  Trustees must administer their trusts in good faith, in accordance with the best interests of beneficiaries and the purpose of the trust.  Beneficiaries have a right to a properly administered trust, managed in accordance with Florida trust law and the trust’s purpose.  If there are any failings, beneficiaries can hold the trustee accountable.

A trustee’s duty to act in good faith and in beneficiaries’ best interests includes a duty to avoid conflicts of interest and self-dealing, and to reasonably limit trust expenses.  If a trust has more than one beneficiary, the trustee must act impartially toward the beneficiaries. In the event of any improper dealing or expenses, beneficiaries can petition a court to void inappropriate transactions or to hold the trustee liable for losses incurred by the trust.

As with beneficiaries in probate, Florida trust law provides trust beneficiaries with substantial information rights.  A beneficiary generally has the right to be kept “reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.” This includes the right to receive an annual accounting from the trustee, which must provide a record of all transactions involving the trust and a statement of all gains, losses, distributions, and fees.  The required disclosure of fees includes all fees paid by the trust to the trustee and any professionals hired by the trustee on the trust’s behalf.

Florida beneficiary rights require that beneficiaries have the right to insist that the trustee protect trust assets—through appropriate legal action when necessary—and invest prudently.  If the trustee has special skills, a beneficiary can expect that those skills will be used to benefit the trust.  A trustee who fails to meet these standards potentially breaches the fiduciary duty owed to beneficiaries, in which case a beneficiary has the right to hold the trustee personally liable for any resulting losses and to petition a court for appointment of a different trustee.

Florida Beneficiary Contractual Rights

Other Types of Beneficiaries:  P/O/D, T/O/D, Retirement Accounts, and Life Insurance

“Payment on Death” (POD) and “Transfer on Death” (TOD) in Florida are similar designations allowing an asset’s title to automatically pass to a named beneficiary upon the current owner’s death.  In Florida, POD designations are commonly used for bank and money-market accounts and CD’s.  TOD designations are typically associated with stocks, bonds, and brokerage accounts.  The big advantage of either designation is that, after the owner dies, the asset vests in the beneficiary with no need for probate.

A POD or TOD designee has the right to receive the subject asset in the future, at the time of the owner’s death, but doesn’t acquire a present interest when the designation is made, like with a life interest in real estate.  So, where a remainderman of a life estate has a right to insist that the real estate be maintained and preserved to protect the value of the remainder interest, a TOD or POD beneficiary has no such right.

Retirement accounts, such as 401k’s and IRAs in Florida, allow the account owner to designate a beneficiary to accede to the account upon the owner’s death.  As with a POD beneficiary, a retirement account beneficiary does not need to go through probate—the account passes automatically.

When the account transfers, the beneficiary has three basic options for accepting it (or four if the beneficiary is a spouse):  withdraw the money and pay the income taxes now; leave the account in place and accept required minimum distributions over the beneficiary’s life expectancy; or roll over the account into an “inherited IRA,” which allows for continued tax deferral but no additional contributions.  A beneficiary spouse can do any of the above or roll over the account into an IRA in the name of the surviving spouse, which is then treated as if it had always belonged to the surviving spouse.

Life insurance beneficiaries have the right to receive a policy’s payout upon the death of the insured.  With most policies, the beneficiary has numerous settlement options to choose from, ranging from a single, lump-sum payment to an annuitized “life income” payout that provides regular guaranteed distributions for the rest of the beneficiary’s life.  Under Florida’s exemption laws, life insurance proceeds are protected from attachment by the beneficiary’s creditors in most cases.  And beneficiaries can usually claim life insurance proceeds as an exempt asset in bankruptcy as well.

Being a beneficiary is generally a good thing.  After all, by definition you get to be the one who stands to benefit.  However, there are times when beneficiaries need to take action to ensure they receive the full benefits of the position.  If you have questions or need legal representation relating to rights you hold as a beneficiary under Florida law, an attorney experienced with Florida’s trusts and estates laws can help you to better understand and protect your interests.

Steve Gibbs, Esq.


181 comments… add one
  • Tonya Miller-Turczyn October 29, 2019, 10:52 am

    Would you be willing to come and do a talk on Florida Beneficary Rights at Keller Willimas Peace River Patners in Punta Gorda, Fl.


  • gibbslawfl October 29, 2019, 11:13 am

    Hello Tonya, thanks for commenting and for your kind invitation. I’m always willing to come and talk to groups. The question is always scheduling as I am currently back and forth between 2 offices. Let me know if you’re flexible and perhaps sometime during the season we can arrange something.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Mayra johnston April 24, 2020, 9:44 am

    I recently lost a sister. She resided in Florida. She had a live in companion. Her companion is recently in a coma and has been since state lockdown was enforced. Other health issue placed him there in hospital.she passed 4/13/20. She had no living will,but a small life insurance policy that found recently found by the sister who is overlooking their home they shared. She obviously passed before him,and he was listed as beneficiary along with me as secondary. I live in New Jersey . Since her cam panino is not responsive and surely can’t in any way function,how is her policy going to handled so the funds of the policy can be used to pay for my sisters burial,if her companion is unable and in fact pass himself? Horrible.!

  • gibbslawfl April 24, 2020, 12:15 pm

    Hello Mayra, thanks for commenting. Good question and a general answer without looking into this is that even though your sister’s partner is unresponsive, because he is still living he is entitled to the proceeds. If he, as the beneficiary, has a representative such as a power of attorney, then that person can use the proceeds for his benefit.


    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • James and Karen April 29, 2020, 3:18 pm

    Hi my husband’s parents lived in Florida My father in law passed away. My mother in law is still alive . They have a trust set up with a layer .2 of my sisters are POA for Mom there are 8 children in the family. We where told that all 8 kids get the house once Mom passes. My sister will not let me see a copy of the trust , which she has or the Paperwork .
    If the trust is revocable doesn’t it become irrevocable when one parent passed?
    My sister called the lawyer handling the matter and told her not to speak to me !
    As a beneficiary don’t I have a right to see the trust ? Please help

  • gibbslawfl April 29, 2020, 3:41 pm

    Hello James and Karen, sorry to hear about your situation; although, I assure you it is pretty common. The short answer is that as a beneficiary, you absolutely have rights, such as the right to a copy of the trust and an accounting, etc. And, yes the trust would become irrevocable upon the last settlor’s death. If you’re not getting cooperation, you may nee to get FL legal help to get proper attention. Let us know if we can help further by connecting with Gene at admin@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Royce Rivard May 6, 2020, 8:04 pm

    Dear Atty. Gibbs my name is Royce Rivard I’m in a beneficiary of the Florida trust set up by my grandfather and a second trust that was funded with gifts to my father.
    Is it possible to get a consultation I have several questions that I cannot get the personal representative or trustee to give me a straight answer on the value of grandfather’s
    The accounts are worth far less then my original statement and the trustee resigned.
    Trust statements arrived with many different titles not matching the title of the trust

  • gibbslawfl May 6, 2020, 11:22 pm

    Hello Royce, thanks for your inquiry. You can get a consultation scheduled by connecting with Gene at admin@gibbslawfl.com and leaving your best contact information. I’ll look forward to connecting.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Randall S Austin May 25, 2020, 12:08 pm

    I am a Benificiary of my Father’s estate who passed a year ago April 19th. I live in Georgia and my two siblings live in Florida. My sister is in charge of handling Will.
    I was never contacted about his posessions which was clearly stated in his Will everything split 3ways. So I got no posessions of his.
    I was actually threatened by my brother not to keep bothering them when he got sick before passing he called my wife and made threats to me through her. You have to understand we are all estranged.
    I got 1/3 of his life insurance and 1/3 of a retirement account now there is still a condominium he had
    Sister will not disclose any financial records to me I’m lost in this living in Georgia and she won’t acknowledge any text I send so I may need help. Or sue her
    Randall Austin

  • gibbslawfl May 25, 2020, 1:32 pm

    Hi Randall, these kinds of situations are exactly why I wrote this article. You’ll most likely need to hire a lawyer in the state in which your father resided in order to have your rights protected. Let us know if we can help by e-mailing Gene at admin@gibbslawfl.com.


    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Elizabeth June 7, 2020, 8:07 am

    Thank you for allowing us to comment here with questions. After my husband’s death I found a life insurance policy that he had created prior to us marrying when our child was born. I was the beneficiary of the majority of the policy with a member of his family the beneficiary of the remainder. Again this policy was made prior to us marrying. Is there anything to be done, to correct this?

  • gibbslawfl June 8, 2020, 12:09 pm

    Hello Elizabeth, thanks for reading and commenting. When someone passes away, the beneficiary is set in stone at that point in my experience. It’s different if someone becomes incapacitated and and a spouse has a durable power of attorney. That being the case, if you feel that mistakes were made there is always a possibility of a claim under the elective share laws in Florida under the elective share laws which are in place to protect spouses.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • stela June 15, 2020, 10:59 am

    hello good day i am stela from Philippines. i have friend from Florida who passed away last February 2020..but before he died he told me that he made me as his beneficiaries… i dont know the name of insurance company.. what should i do? should i just wait that someone reach me out if im really one of the beneficiary of my friends insurance?.. and contacted his work company thru messenger since i dont know the insurance company but they just seen it.. no response at all😩

  • gibbslawfl June 17, 2020, 10:57 am

    Hello Stela, sorry to hear about your situation. Honestly, if he didn’t tell you the company, the only other way is find out who is handling his estate. If he has other family, you might start there.


    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Donna July 1, 2020, 10:51 am

    My mother in law recently passed. She always told my husband and myself that she had 5 life insurance policies. One for each of her 4 children, and one for her burial expenses. She had the one child (my husband’s sister) listed as beneficiary and entrusted her to disperse the money equally. There was no written will. She honestly believed her daughter would fulfill her final wishes, we don’t have as much faith. We are not sure if my mother in law was able to keep up with all the policies towards the end of her life but we do know that she had her burial policy. I believe it was a $20,000 policy. My sister in law opted to have my mother in law cremated with a cost of only $1000. My sister in law is being less than forthcoming regarding my mother in law’s policies. Caught between a rock and a hard place here. Don’t want to fight over money, but also want my sister in law to fulfill my mother in law’s wishes. With her being listed as beneficiary, and no written will, is she entitled to keep all payouts? Thank you.

  • gibbslawfl July 1, 2020, 3:14 pm

    Hello Donna and thanks for commenting. This situation looks a bit complicated; however, as a general rule the beneficiary designated would dictate who owns the proceeds, especially in the absence of a valid will or trust. To be certain, you would need a consultation with a FL estate attorney to look at assets and policy designations in more detail.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Glenda Brewer July 27, 2020, 5:13 pm

    Mr Gibbs,
    A close uncle of mine lived and died in Florida, he has shared with us we were in his will. His executor is his CPA who lives in CA. When we wanted to come to Florida after my uncles passing we were told the house is locked up, we can not see his estate. He is having appraiser there and all items will be sold.
    Who notifies beneficiaries? And when after death do they notify a beneficiary. And when do they supply us a will or trust that shows the beneficiary? After the estate has been gone through? We live in WA. State.
    Thank You.

  • gibbslawfl July 28, 2020, 9:33 pm

    Hello Glenda, thanks for commenting. If there is a trust you would be entitled to a copy within a reasonable time. A will would be filed with the probate court and the county thus would be a public record. It is typical to secure the estate upon someone passing; however, I’m a bit surprised there hasn’t been more details shared with the heirs. All of the above should ideally be done within a few months of the date of death.

    I hope this helps.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Audrey W August 10, 2020, 11:32 pm

    Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to help people with their questions or concerns. If there were more people like you, the world would be a much better place.

  • Audrey W August 10, 2020, 11:59 pm

    Thank you for taking time to read and hopefully answer my question.
    I am one of 3 beneficiares to my mother’s will. My mom passed away May 29, 2020 and left behind her home amongst other stuff located in Florida. Mom’s will is not probated. My sister who lives in Texas is the exeutor of the will. I told the executor (my sister) that i wanted to go stay at our mothers house for a couple of weeks to start packing up stuff for charity and spend some time at the Florids beaches, I too live in Texas. My sister told me No i could not stay at our moms house. My mom’s house is not on the market, no one lives there and the estate is paying the bills. Does my sister have the right to deny me access to my mom’s house or forbid me from staying a couple of weeks at this point ?

  • gibbslawfl August 13, 2020, 4:57 pm

    Thank you Audrey, I appreciate your comment, especially during such crazy times.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl August 13, 2020, 5:00 pm

    Aubrey, yes the Personal Representative (executor) is responsible to safeguard the estate and this can often include not allowing anyone to enter real property (or stay there) in order to protect belongings and the property. This is particularly important if there are other beneficiaries, so you shouldn’t take it personally. Your sister could actually be liable for letting you stay there before the estate is settled.

    I hope this helps clarify.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Penni Mitchell August 24, 2020, 5:28 pm

    If an heir passes away prior to dispersment of a loved one’s estate, do they still receive their share of the estate? Does their share go on to that person’s heirs?

  • gibbslawfl August 28, 2020, 11:09 am

    Hello Penni, thanks for reading. It actually may depend upon what the deceased person’s estate plan says. It wouldn’t go to the deceased heir in any event but could go to his or her heirs or to another contingent beneficiary.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Melissa September 1, 2020, 7:47 am

    Good morning,
    My father recently passed away, he lived and died in Florida . I was the only beneficiary on his life insurance. He did not have a will that I have located. I have a sister, that my dad did not want to receive anything. After funeral costs there is some life insurance money left. Can my sister sue for the insurance money if she wanted to?

  • gibbslawfl September 1, 2020, 12:49 pm

    Hello Melissa, thanks for commenting. Anyone can sue anyone for anything; however, your sister probably wouldn’t prevail in this case unless there was some legal reason why the beneficiary designation on the policy should be deemed invalid. Generally, this would hold against legal claims.

    Hope this helps.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Dee Bobori September 2, 2020, 2:54 am

    Quick question. Live in Colorado. Florida condo bought by parents. 20+ years ago and my sister pushed to be put on JTWROS deed to avoid probate and I was told it was so we would have access to money in case of parents death from cruising or traveling etc to get the back to Colorado etc. I believed her and never gave it a thought again. ( BTW, Sister never paid anything to condo purchase or home owners dues nor taxes) . A year ago, sister and I signed a notarized Heir Agreement that anything (including real estate previously/currently) left to either of us by our parents would be split 50/50. Dad was suffering from dementia and was always threatening to change the Will when he got mad — favoring one daughter over the other depending on his mood. We both signed this agreement willingly to maintain peace and sanity. Parents just died together of COVID-19 in an assisted living facility. Sister now doesn’t want to be held to the heir agreement because she is now the full owner and doesn’t consider herself a beneficiary of their death. I think she benefited and inherited this property because they died. She doesn’t agree. If that is how she felt, she should have put an exclusion about the condo in the Heir Agreement. But she blames me for not having it included. I always thought it was part of my parents property to be split in half and thought that “any and all real estate” covers their properties well enough. Any thought? We are looking for representation.
    – DB
    P.S. Parents left a Will splitting estate expressly and emphatically stating a 50/50 split for everything else. But the condo is a non-probate asset due to its JTWROS status. So it’s the notarized Heir Agreement I think should be enforceable.

  • gibbslawfl September 4, 2020, 12:03 pm

    Hello Dee, thanks for commenting. I actually haven’t come across and “heir agreement” and thus am not sure if it could be enforced by a FL Court, although if it is a valid agreement, there is a chance they would. That would be something to discuss with a probate litigation attorney and its something we don’t handle. I would research attorneys with that expertise in FL and book a consultation because this will likely involve suing your sister to recover half of the real property if you decide to make the claim.


    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Sylvia September 6, 2020, 1:36 am

    Good evening:
    My Uncle passed and had no children so he left his savings funds to his nieces and nephews. All 28 of them. He also had real estate in Indiana with a home that was left to the Trustee. The beneficiaries received a Trust Disclosure stating that unpaid and outstanding lease payments and renovations are needed for the Indiana Lake house and Florida house. The Trustee sent a Ratification of Consent for loans to the Trust. Is the savings money left to the nieces and nephews separate from the estate he gave to the Trustee? We do not benefit from the estate. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is she asking that we allow her to put a hold on our money so she can use it as a loan to improve her estate assets? When or how would we get paid? Shouldn’t we get our funds disbursed aside of her trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her assets?
    Any guidance would help me understand this better than I do at this point. Thank you.

  • gibbslawfl September 11, 2020, 2:18 pm

    Hi Sylvia, thanks for commenting. It’s impossible to know what is going on without reviewing the trust and assets. In Florida, a beneficiary is entitled to a copy of the trust and an accounting of assets. If you’re a beneficiary of the legal guardian for one, I suggest you attempt to obtain this information and if you aren’t receiving it you may be wise to seek a Florida estate attorney to help you obtain it and ask the right questions.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Raymond Parrish September 14, 2020, 7:41 am

    Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.
    Dad and Mom passed. Seven siblings one sibling is being sued. The sibling listed as executor on the Will concealed the will and no probate has been open. Can a civil case go forward without the estate first going to probate? Do the plaintiffs have a cause of action without the Will going through probate? Is the civil case a collateral attack agents the probate court. If the case goes to trial and the plaintiffs win, will the winnings go into the Estate Bank Accounts? The will was cancelled until after the civil case had started. The Will does give all bank accounts to the single sibling. If the Will is not contested and the probate court gives the single sibling the Estate Bank Accounts, will she get all the money back that was given to the estate after the Civil Case ended. Can the Civil Case be dismissed due to no cause of action? Can the Civil Case be dismissed due to a Collateral Attack on the Will? Is an action brought “on behalf” of an estate by someone, without letters of administration and who is not named as an executor in the Will, is this a nullity.
    Thanks for all your help.
    Raymond Parrish

  • gibbslawfl September 17, 2020, 7:13 pm

    Hello Raymond, the short answer to your scenario is that interested parties can generally force a probate to be opened. You would need to consult with an estate litigation attorney to look into this more closely and it is something that our office doesn’t get involved in beyond the negotiation stages.

    Best of luck.

    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • K noe September 27, 2020, 1:29 am

    My father passed away recently. He and my stepmother have a revokable trust. Each becoming the trustee if the other dies before them. My stepmother isn’t being forthcoming with any documentation. She states that myself, my brother, and 2 stepsisters are all beneficiaries. She states things to me that don’t make sense. One day she can not locate papers and then the next she can. It’s starting to get fairly frustrating. She has missed the 10 day window to file my father’s will and now states that she cannot find the correct paperwork that states that she is the trustee. I feel like she is purposefully keeping us all in the dark. She is now indicated that she is leaving the state with her brother to spend time with her children. She’s filed no paperwork with the county clerks office. I haven’t been able to find a clear time line as to when she is compelled to start releasing assets, paying debts, or producing documentation to the beneficiaries. I feel like she is trying to escape… she does not seem the least bit concerned. Advice is appreciated.

  • Lauraine Saballa September 28, 2020, 1:49 pm

    Hello and thank you for allowing me to leave a comment/question for your reply. My husband lost his share in a tenant in common sibling house inharitnance from our dad after he passed away. My husband and I, we were forced to “sell” his share because it is law in WA State, per our Bankruptcy Trustee. My husband has 5 siblngs (6 children in all). A non-family individual had later purchased my husband’s share. Sadly, 1 of my siblings had died leaving 4 siblings able to split her share (I get included at this time) 5 ways. Question? Do I have any right to receive my deceased sister’s full share rather than only 1/5? That would seem fair, leaving the 5 of us siblings with a full share each. What do you think? Can my husband do anything to get a full share again after the passing of his oldest sibling? My husband is the second oldest. Thank you very much!

  • gibbslawfl September 29, 2020, 2:20 pm

    Hello and thanks for reading. The short answer is that you may need legal help in Florida to get her to pay attention as these kind of behaviors are pretty common.

    Unfortunately, if someone won’t cooperate, the most effective approach is to put some on notice of potential legal consequences. For you, it is really a question of the size estate and whether it is worth hiring someone to help. Your remedies could include requiring that a probate be opened in FL to put everything in front of a judge. Hope this offers some direction.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl September 29, 2020, 2:28 pm

    Hello Lauraine, thanks for commenting. Unfortunately there is way too much going on here to be able to offer a much of response without a consultation and actually reviewing the deed. Generally speaking, it doesn’t really matter what is fair but rather whether the distribution is spelled out (as in a deed) or whether it to authorized by state statutes which is “per stirpes”. Also, bankruptcy is it’s own arena and all bets are off if someone had to give up a share due to bankruptcy. That said, selling a share wouldn’t necessarily mean that you husband wouldn’t be able to inherit another person’s share later. This could depend on the type of bankruptcy and other issues.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Don Powell October 5, 2020, 7:43 pm

    Mr. Gibbs,
    Thank you in advance for reviewing my concerns.
    My wife and her sister are co-trustees of a family trust. There are ten beneficiaries. My wife is one of the original co-trustees after the other original co-trustee resigned and the only named successor trustee will resign soon. From the attorney, I understand that the Grantor is the only person who could appoint a successor trustee in this instance. Since the Grantor is deceased, that cannot be the case. The trust document states that after the 30-day written notice of the resignation of the last-named co-trustee, the terminating trustee or any beneficiary may petition the court to appoint another successor co-trustee. The trust does not state that another co-trustee is required. According to The Florida Statues section 736.0704, I understand Item 2 applies in this situation – “If one or more co-trustees remain in office, a vacancy in a trusteeship need not be filled. A vacancy in a trusteeship must be filled if the trust has no remaining trustee”.

    My question is as follows: Who is responsible for the court and/or attorney fees if a beneficiary petitions the court for a successor trustee? The trust document does not address this issue.

    Thank you, and best regards,
    Don Powell

  • Padraig McClamrock October 6, 2020, 5:29 pm

    My wife is one of 3 siblings. Their mother remarried years ago and she and her husband set-up a will that named the 3 children as beneficiaries of the estate as well as being named on the deed of the house – mom’s kids own 1/2 of the house (1/3 each) and new husband owned other 1/2 of house. The will states that her estate shifts to the husband upon her death. Mom passed away 2 years ago and they are just now entering probate. Do the beneficiaries of the estate lose their rights upon their mother’s passing, and does all the discretion and authority Of the estate shift to the step-father?

    Thank you.

  • Karen Krietemeyer October 7, 2020, 1:46 pm

    My father has an irrevocable trust in which my siblings and I are beneficiaries. I am the
    trustee of the irrevocable trust. One sibling is requiring accounting of the trust now. In the trust book, it say to report accounting to beneficiaries “then eligible to receive mandatory distributions”…etc etc
    Is this a Florida law to provide prior to the grantor death?

  • gibbslawfl October 7, 2020, 6:05 pm

    Hi Don, thanks for commenting. This is a bit involved for a blog comment; however, the short answer is most likely that the beneficiary may initially be responsible for attorney’s fees and could perhaps ask the court to require the trust to reimburse you for them. This would depend on the need and reasons for a co-trustee, etc. I’m saying this with the caveat that I don’t work a lot on the trust litigation side and there may be an attorney’s fees statute for this…am just not aware of one.

    Hope this helps point you in the right direction from an education standpoint. If you need something concrete, I recommend you seek feedback from a trust litigation attorney in a consultation setting having the trust available for review.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl October 7, 2020, 6:08 pm

    Hello and thanks for commenting, your situation is impossible for me to comment on without reviewing the deed and it sounds like you need an experienced estate attorney to do that. I strongly recommend you go the route of getting a professional opinion on the deeed.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl October 7, 2020, 6:10 pm

    Hello Karen, it isn’t required in my understanding prior (even with an irrevocable trust) to the grantor’s death; however, the trust may require something more stringent. You might have your father ask the attorney who prepared the trust to advise on this issue.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • KAREN F FLYNN October 9, 2020, 1:08 pm

    hello, My husbands dad was taken under guardianship thru the state and was assigned a personal representative. He has since passed on and we received word asking if we wanted to retain the representative. Not living in the Florida area we agreed to retain her services. I received a notice from the state appointed attorney regarding probate. Our letter clearly states that these attorneys are representing the personal representative and not us. And want to charge us a minimum of $6,000.00
    in legal fees as well as give the representative 3% of the entire estate. Do we have choices here? Should we retain our own attorney and try to get rid of the present attorney and representative if that is even possible? I was also wondering about the assets. There are 2 beneficiaries does the state have the right to liquidate all the assets in order to distribute

  • gibbslawfl October 9, 2020, 7:28 pm

    Hello Karen and thanks for commenting. You do have choices and this is they asked you to agree to the PR. Now that you’ve done so, would need to see what you signed; although, I think you could likely terminate that PR and potentially terminate the firm involved. As an aside, the $6,000 is fairly standard for a formal administration and they would also likely ask for additional attorneys’ fees by statute. The 3% PR fee may be deemed excessive depending upon the size of the estate. All of this is for educational purposes only, as this case would need to be looked at in detail. Let us know if you want to schedule an additional discussion by connecting at info@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Karen Cloud October 22, 2020, 11:37 pm

    My sister and I are both beneficiaries of our mothers Will. Our mother passed away this June and made my sister Personal Representative. My sister is not following the wishes of our mother, additionally, she has not communicated with me in almost two months on matters related to the estate. When it was time to place mom in hospice and out of her best interest, my sister refused and demanded that I sign the papers (so I did); my sister also lost interest in selling mom’s house so went on a weeks long vacation to Colorado abandoning me to the process, and has not helped me at all with any of the upkeep/maintenance and checking in of the house. Mom left a letter stating that we should discuss everything together before making any decisions and my sister is very well much aware of this letter and has a copy of it. My sister took items out of mom’s house to her house in a city 4 hours away instead of distributing them here equally between the both of us as the Will directs. My sister in her last text to me stated that she has no plan to return so this sounds like theft. I asked her questions that go unanswered and they go unanswered out of spite, this PR position has gone to her head. She has taken several thousand dollars worth of items including money earned from a garage sale. She has not yet provided an accounting to me of the items she carted off, one such item includes a chest of silverware which my sister said she didn’t want, and I told her that I wanted it. To date I have no idea, what or where these items are or if she has sold them or given them away. I don’t know what my rights are as beneficiary when it comes to my mothers personal items that were supposed to be divided in the city of her residence. Do I need an attorney?
    Thank You.

  • gibbslawfl October 23, 2020, 4:18 pm

    Hello Karen and thanks for commenting. It sound like you may be in a situation where an independent attorney who represents your interests may be helpful and even essential depending on what is at stake. This process would generally begin with an independent consultation. Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Mary Kenney October 27, 2020, 7:11 pm

    Hello, can the sole heir of an estate and the current personal representative petition the court to change the personal representative “on consent”? I suppose this would be a petition for removal, but in this case it is not contested. The sole heir (adult daughter of the deceased) would like to be appointed the personal representative, and the personal representative does not object to this. From a timing perspective, we are past the 90 day notice to creditors period and there are no claims against the estate. I’m wondering if there is a more “informal” way to go about making the change of personal rep if both heir and current PR are in agreement. Thank you for any insight.

  • gibbslawfl October 29, 2020, 4:41 pm

    Hello Mark and thanks for commenting. I’d have to be familiar with your probate process to offer a reliable answer. Generally, speaking, when you’re before the court, a petition to remove and replace would be required in my opinion. I you’re in an active process, your probate attorney (who is required in Florida) should be able to offer the best direction.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Katherine Kopplin November 1, 2020, 12:49 am

    Hi there,
    My brother passed away 14 months ago in Florida. I am a beneficiary. His girlfriend is executor and joint tenant. In his Will he left me 50% of his home and her the other. He also left me his art collection, statutes and several other items. In the will
    he states that these items are to come to me at such time the girlfriend either dies or sells the house, which she still lives in. Her attorney is requesting all beneficiaries to sign a waiver that all assets have been distributed nor has she made a list of assets. Two of us have not received anything due to the wording and her refusal to release them to us.
    What can I do?

  • Carole November 1, 2020, 10:40 am

    Dear Sir
    My partner is listed as an heir on his fathers estate which is being foreclosed on. The family disowned him prior to his fathers death and he wants no part of the estate or possessions. He contacted the attorney of the plaintiff explaining this but gets ignored. He has a written letter notarized stating hes relinquishing all rights. Who does he send this to? Does he need to send one to the plaintiff directly and one to the court house where the hime sits or is the plantiffs attorney sufficient? He wants nothing to do with any of it. He doesn’t want his fathers lack of paying the house or anything else to fall on him. Hes washed his hands of them and wants nothing. Thank you for your time.

  • gibbslawfl November 3, 2020, 12:30 pm

    Hello Katherine, I strongly suggest (for educational purposes only) that you don’t sign any waivers and you may benefit from a consultation because you are being asked by an attorney to waive rights. Let us know if we can help by connecting with Gene at admin@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl November 3, 2020, 12:33 pm

    Hello Carole, thanks for commenting; however, your situation appears to be complicated and requires a professional consultation. Unfortunately, estate litigation is not our focus as we are 100%c committed to helping people avoid the very kinds of situations you’re describing. Other than getting that information from that attorney or hiring legal counsel, there isn’t much else to recommend.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Jay H. November 20, 2020, 11:05 am

    My mother died in Oct.
    She was married to a man that is not my biological father.
    According to F.S.732.102(3), I am entitled to one-half of my mother’s estate.
    According to F.S.733.301(1)(b), My step-father has preference of appointment; to become the estate’s personal representative.

    My step-father has gained the services of his long time personal friend (20 year friendship), who is also a lawyer.
    This lawyer has stated that he wishes to receive no compensation for his work.

    I believe (reasonably) that there may be a conflict of interest.
    And I would like to verify the transaction history of my mother’s bank account.

    What statute allows me to get financial information from a bank?
    I’m not looking to move the money, nor am I interested in any transactions before her death.

    For the record, it’s been one week since the petition has been filed with the court.
    I have yet to recieve the notice of administration.

  • Robert Armacost November 21, 2020, 11:09 pm

    Mr. Gibbs:
    My step-mother passed away in August 2020. My father predeceased her in 2011. Over the years, their wills left everything to her two children and his three children in equal shares (20%). In 2012, my step-mother’s son convinced her to create a living trust with him as co-trustee. The beneficiary provisions still included equal distribution to the five children. In 2015, she signed an amendment to the trust that changed the beneficiary distribution to my father’s children to a small fixed amount, a fixed amount to a niece, and the balance split equally between him and his sister. The amendment appears to be legally executed. There is no way to determine if she fully understood the details of the change. Do we have any basis to challenge the validity of this amendment?

  • gibbslawfl November 23, 2020, 12:54 pm

    Hello Jay, thanks for commenting. The intestacy laws are somewhat complicated and a number of addition questions need to be addressed to even begin to respond.
    For this reason, based upon your facts, it appears you need an actual attorney consultation because you are asking for specific legal guidance about statutes and legal rights.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl November 23, 2020, 1:00 pm

    Hi Robert, in America, there is always a legal way to challenge something. It looks like you’re considering the approach of “undue influence” and this can be a tough burden of proof in court. Your question to consider is how big the estate is because it will most likely be expensive to hire decent legal counsel out of the gate with no guarantee of recovery.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Robert Armacost November 24, 2020, 3:52 pm

    Thank you for your insight. Total estate is less than $500K . Clearly not worth the hassle and pain. Thanks again.

  • Vickie November 29, 2020, 10:08 pm

    A friend of mine lost her mother in September 2020. Seven weeks later her father passed away. There was a living trust in place. She is the only child. Because annuities and life insurance do not have to go in the living trust the beneficiaries on the two annuities and one life insurance policy was the surviving spouse. Because he died seven weeks later the beneficiaries did not get changed to the daughter although it is stated in the revocable living trust that the daughter gets 100% after both have passed away. The banks and life insurance companies are requesting a letter of administration. Does the daughter have to go through probate in order to get the proceeds from the life insurance and the annuities.

  • gibbslawfl December 1, 2020, 4:46 pm

    You’re welcome Robert, I encourage you to consider planning for a smaller estate as these are often more vulnerable to issues than larger estates. 3 Reasons To Use A Florida Revocable Trust For A Small Estate

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl December 1, 2020, 4:52 pm

    Hello Vicki, thanks for reading. If the “estate” was on the policy as beneficiary than the Florida probate would need to be completed. Let us know if we can help by connecting at info@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • michelle December 4, 2020, 3:00 pm

    hello my grandpa lives in florida i live in ohio he has a living trust since i live in a different state am i still able to be the administrator of the living trust. he was told that it has to be a florida resident to be the administrator. Thanks

  • C.Hall December 4, 2020, 7:30 pm

    My step mother hated me. She died 5 or 6 years ago. Now my father passed. They left my step sister 75 percent of the estate and I got 25. I am my fathers only blood decendant and my two children.And the trust refers to me as my fathers step daughter. Can I contest the trust because my step mother and sister unduly influenced my father my entire life to keep him away from me?

  • gibbslawfl December 7, 2020, 12:22 pm

    Hi Michelle, it sounds like your grandpa is getting legal help so I’ll defer to that though I’ll mention technically, a Personal Representative of a will can reside out of state if he or she is a family member and a Trustee can typically reside elsewhere as well. At the end of the day its your grandfather’s estate and his call.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl December 7, 2020, 12:23 pm

    Hello, anything can be contested; however, it may cost substantial legal fees to to do. You’ll need to do a cost benefit analysis.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Linda Blackman March 9, 2021, 9:41 pm

    My father died in Boca Raton, Florida in 2015. He had a wife, not my mother. Both my father and his wife told us that my husband was the PR. I don’t have siblings and I, my three adult children and my grandchildren are the only heirs per stripes. My father’s lawyer said my husband was not permitted to be the PR as he was not a blood relative or a resident of the state of Florida. ( I quickly learned that was not true as we have been married for 48 years)His wife was written as the PR with me second in the will that was produced.His wife died two years after him in Sept 2017. When I assumed the trustee status of his trust i learned that his wife removed money from his trust during the last weeks of his life including the day before he died. I learned that the lawyer for both of them rewrote his wife’s will in contravention to my father’s wishes. In spite of official status as PR the Financial Institutions refused to provide accounting of all the accounts individually and jointly owned by my father. I have filed with FINRA and the SEC. I also filed a Bar Complaint re ethical violations and conflict of interest. the Bar Complaint has reached the Grievance Committee. Can the lawyer be sued for ethical malpractice and are there lawyers who will do this on contingency?

  • gibbslawfl March 11, 2021, 10:43 am

    Hello Linda, I’m not aware of an “ethical malpractice” claim; however, suing lawyers isn’t really my area of expertise:) It sounds like you may need to connect with someone who regularly handles legal malpractice suits.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Kim March 11, 2021, 12:52 pm

    My father died without a will in Florida. I received a waiver of priority consent to appointment of personal representative and waiver of notice and bond for one of my siblings. If I choose to consent and waive bond, do I receive accountings and inventories as a beneficiary to my father’s estate? Does Also, I received survivor’s consent to personal representative’s petition for authority to sell decedent’s homestead property which lists the property and states that I consent to the granting of personal representative’s petition for authority to sell decedent’s homestead property for $____________ located at the address. Why is the dollar amount on my consent left blank? Furthermore, the petition for administration intestate from the court lists assets, but a checking account states unknown amount. The lawyer which my sibling retained to represent them sent me a letter which states an approximate amount. Should the exact amount be in the court documents which listed the assets. I would appreciate any guidance you can provide.

  • gibbslawfl March 11, 2021, 1:18 pm

    Hi Kim, unfortunately we can only offer feedback for educational purposes and cannot get into legal advice that warrants a full review and consultation. In this case, it would require further discussion and an examination of court documents to offer meaningful advice. Without due diligence and a confidential relationship, to offer other feedback in this case could lead you in the wrong direction. Let us know if we can help coordinate a consultation.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Rita March 12, 2021, 5:35 pm

    My father died a month ago, and we have only a copy of the will, not the original. His bank account had a POD, naming his grandson from the first marriage as his beneficiary (my Mom and he were married 64 years at the time of his death). The money was accrued during their marriage. She has Alzheimer’s, and she has been living with me and my husband for the past 4 years. None of us was made aware that he changed the banks and beneficiaries. Is my Mom entitled to any of this money? What are our options in Florida? Would appreciate your response. Thanks.

  • gibbslawfl March 13, 2021, 9:53 am

    Hi Rita, it’s tough to comment without more insight and in a blog context I can only offer general information for educational purposes. Legal advice needs to happen in the context of an attorney client consultative relationship. That said, I can tell you that if dad changed beneficiaries way from mom who has Alzheimer’s, there could’ve been a valid reason to preserve the estate and help mom qualify for Medicaid if she needs skilled care. Also, if mom did receive money and tried to give it away, it would still penalize her for Medicaid. On the other hand, if she was left nothing, she could potentially claim an “elective share” if the assets. Much more due diligence would need to be done to offer clear direction but I hope this offers some insight.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Rita March 13, 2021, 3:16 pm

    Thank you for your reply.

  • gibbslawfl March 20, 2021, 11:17 am

    You’re welcome!

    Best, Steve

  • LA DONNA L PERMENTER April 5, 2021, 10:40 pm

    My mother passed away 3 mons ago today 4-5-21 , my brother is the executor, I am one of 3 beneficiary to the real estate and “Payment on Death” (POD) for my mother’s bank account and savings account. There are 3 siblings with equal beneficiary rights. (1) brother (2) myself (3) my sister beneficiaries with equal shares.
    My brother did not advise when the will was to be reviewed with my mothers estate attorney, I would not have know if they had not slipped up and gave date & time. My mothers checking account my sister was listed in 2004 on the account to sign to pay bills while my mother was visit with her out of state and became very ill. The will & deed was produced in 2008 and it listed all 3 siblings as equal beneficiaries, including the bank accounts. I asked to see the beginning balances from the date of my mothers death and my sister refuses. My sister took over the accounts and states will not share. My brother and sister took all of the collectable valueable coins and did not share. My mother since 2008 told me a 100’s of times and especially towards the end it will take all 3 of siblings to access bank accounts.
    I have had to retain an attorney to request to do a letter requesting the access and they still refuse. Now the estate attorney, that did the will is now represent my siblings against me. I feel there is a conflict of interest from this attorney, who also failed to advise my grand daughter that she was to receive my mothers retirement account funds, it was not to be disclosed to any of us siblings. This disclossure ‘highly pissed’ off my siblings. The retirement funds where deposited into the banking account that my sister has now seized those funds also. I requested a copy of the will and was refused. I feel self- dealing and major conflicts are going on. Can this estate attorney represent my siblings against me in this ‘fubar’!?!?!?! The attorney sent me a letter stating my siblings hired him and he does not have to answer to me about anything. WTH!?!?!? All I want is what my mother wanted me to have.
    Thank you in advance for any advise you can give me!!!! :( this is all turned into a nightmare that could have been avoided if the attorney had done his job correctly. He NEVER returned any of my calls I feel so alienated in the ‘FUBAR’!!!!!
    La Donna

  • gibbslawfl April 6, 2021, 3:42 pm

    Hello, family disputes and be difficult; however, it is difficult to comment in a blog post setting as I can’t offer strategic or legal advice. I recommend you go back to the attorney that you hired with these concerns and if you aren’t happy with the feedback that it may be time to find a new lawyer. In general, beneficiaries are entitled to receive fair information and cooperation concerning the estate settlement process and from what you said, a conflict of interest is possible.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Lucy April 29, 2021, 1:58 pm

    One of my parent passed and named me primary beneficiary, and the spouse contingent of a pension fund. On the beneficiary form the allocation percentage was written as 50% each. Is this beneficiary form invalid or will causes a major issues? Where can I find the statute regarding something of this matter.
    And, is it possible to use past beneficiary form(s), or does the last beneficiary form wipes out all past beneficiary forms?

  • gibbslawfl April 29, 2021, 2:25 pm

    Hello Lucy, generally speaking and for educational purposes (not legal advice), the beneficiary form is what it is and would require splitting the account 50/50. Absent a legal claim of lack of capacity or undue influence, this would not be subject to a legal challenge.

    I hope this helps.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • daniela May 4, 2021, 3:53 pm

    Hello, my dad’s spouse is administrating my dad’s estate and she forgot to include properties that belong to me and my sister. How can I file a claim or something with probate so i can fight it? thank you!

  • gibbslawfl May 5, 2021, 12:31 pm

    Hello Daniela, sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, generally you would need to hire a lawyer file a contest in probate as this is a fairly complicated area of law. I would look for someone who handles Florida probate litigation as this isn’t our focus area.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Elaine Cooper May 15, 2021, 5:07 pm

    We are involved/beneficiaries of an intestate/probate in Miami Florida.
    Distributions were made to an employee of the decedents business without approval and now that employee is claiming she is a creditor (2 years later) and wants to be compensated. What rights do we have as beneficiaries ? The estate is sizeable and there are a lot of beneficiaries.
    I’ve also emailed you with my cell number. If you can call me that would be great.

  • gibbslawfl May 17, 2021, 2:57 pm

    Hello Elaine, thanks for your comment. It sounds like a tough situation. The way that we stay organized is to run all appointments through Gene in my office at 239-415-7495. Will look for your e-mail and reach out to schedule or please re-send.

    Thank you. Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Grady May 18, 2021, 9:32 am

    My twin sister and I have an ongoing probate case in Fl in which we are the sole beneficiaries of the estate. My father and I were not as close so I agreed to let her be the personal representative. There was a will that was made several years back and a retirement account that has already been distributed. But I now feel that my sister may possibly be taking advantage of the fact that I signed waivers to as I was told would speed up the process. If she is not trying to advantage of this i believe at best she has been very negligent with the estate. But as time has gone by I’m beginning to question her motive and intent because before the probate process started she convinced me to help her get his vehicle put in her name by saying dad wanted me to have the vehicle. Then when the probate process started she then convinced me to sign waivers saying that instead of going by the will we will distribute the property of the estate among ourselves which after she got the vehicle i was given the title to a boat with a non working motor and also a title to a small camper trailer which the amount of both probably only equal half of the vehicle that has been put in her name. And I was told by her to back date titles or put them in the probate which made me a little unsure of what to do and then began to wonder why she used the will and then got me to sign waivers after she alone used the will to benefit herself . I don’t want to fight and argue over money and assets now there are several more things that have come into question i feel like i have been taken advantage of by giving her the leave way to divide things amongst ourselves and appointing her as personal representative. What rights do I have to see accounting information and how far back before his death if at all do I have to see the information. He passed away due to covid-19 and was in the hospital probably 2 weeks before he passed,

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

  • gibbslawfl May 18, 2021, 4:27 pm

    Hello Grady, unfortunately your situation is all too common. In general, you’re entitled to full disclosure concerning assets, bills and distributions paid from the estate. If you’re not confident, you would be entitled to information. You may need representation to get the information you’re looking for and if litigation is required, it can get expensive. So the idea is to avoid needless litigation if possible and pursue cooperative solutions. This is our priority in ever case. Let us know if you’d like more assistance by connecting with Gene at info@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Chuck May 19, 2021, 11:23 am

    I’ll keep this as brief as possible. My mother just died. Prior to her death there was a POA with 3 agents. Myself and 2 siblings. I know it’s atypical but that’s also my family. They accused me of fraud and immediately denied me access to all financials, accounts, passwords, etc….with zero explanation and refused to tell my why until she died. It was not true and I believe a ploy to gain control. All decisions we’re supposed to be made in unison, not independently and once they took over everything without any explanation, it was clearly a violation of the POA. At the same time, packages with expensive designer names were be delivered which tells me they were dipping into my mother’s accounts. One of them actually commandeered my mother’s vehicle and is now MIA. Now that the POA is a ineffective, the will kicks, which is also MIA, however, it was known that one of my sisters would be the trustee and everything would be split equally between 4 kids. My question is how soon can I request an accounting of the estate? I know they’ve been spending something, I just don’t know what. I mean how do I stop them from spending or hiding accounts? Thank you for your time.

  • gibbslawfl May 21, 2021, 2:59 pm

    Hello Chuck, your situations looks to be very involved and thus requires a consultation, as blog posts are really just an educational Q and A forum. To schedule an appointment, please connect with Gene at 239-415-7495.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • James June 6, 2021, 9:47 am

    My sister is the executor of my father’s estate. He passed away roughly two years ago. The will is in probate. The major assets have been sold (house, boat, cars); all that is left for distribution are his personal belongings. Despite the foregoing, my sister has not been forthcoming with the details I would like as a beneficiary of the estate. I have demanded all kinds of documents from her, but she refuses to provide them. What is the extent of her legal obligations to provide me an accounting? Is the estate bank account ledger sufficient? Am I entitled to all of the bills/invoices/sales receipts? Thank you.

  • gibbslawfl June 6, 2021, 1:46 pm

    Hello James, yours is one of the most common questions that I get. The short answer is that you have the right to a full and fair accounting of assets and expenses; however, there are some things that are discretionary for the Personal Representative. For example, you may not necessarily be entitled to see all bills and receipts if they are listed in an accounting. I’m not sure what would be more complete than a bank account ledger, meaning, wouldn’t it show if cash were being pulled out, etc? Since this is in probate, an inventory of assets should be listed as a matter of court filings. All that suffice to say, if you don’t believe that your sister is dealing with assets honestly, the recourse is to get an attorney to represent you to make inquiries and legal demands if needed.

    Hope this offers some insight.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Megan W July 2, 2021, 3:50 pm

    If I’m a beneficiary, can I stay at the estate until it’s sold? If the trustee doesn’t allow it, do I have any legal right?

  • gibbslawfl July 5, 2021, 2:06 pm

    Hello Megan, the short answer without reviewing the trust is no and no. The trustee has legal control over the real property.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Tina Paton July 19, 2021, 7:12 pm

    I have several questions regarding a intestate estate., with regard to the personal representative. Can someone contact me. This is a Florida estate but I live in NC and I’m a heir. 910-977-7272

  • Shirley Pond July 20, 2021, 5:07 am

    I have a question. My mother in law passed away in florida and her will qas never changed and named her ex-husband as her executor of her will but we also found out my husband was named on 2 bank accounts as POD and then 2 other accounts no one is named. One is an IRA the other unsure. Does my husband have to give that money that he is named on as POD to his step father because he is executor or can he distribute as he sees fit.

  • gibbslawfl July 27, 2021, 6:47 pm

    Hello Tina,

    Sorry for the delay as I’ve been traveling. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please connect with our office at 239-415-7495 or via e-mail at info@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl July 27, 2021, 6:51 pm

    Hello Shirley, a POD generally does not have to be distributed back to the estate; however, you really need to schedule a legal consultation with an estate planning attorney to have the accounts and PODs properly reviewed before taking any action. Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Tom Mahoney August 3, 2021, 4:18 pm

    First of all, this forum is awesome, and thanks for allowing everyone to ask questions. Dad passed in 2017, left everything to Mom, who passed Jan of this year. in FL I am in GA, 3 siblings in MA, including the executor of the estate. Mother had an IRA and a divide by 4 plan/will set up for it, so we have all established inheritance IRAs. My questions are, since Mother was an established resident of FL for 30 years, the executor is in MA, who’s laws do we follow, FL or MA? Next question is since we all just split up the contents of the apartment, all small stuff, except for some expensive jewelry, how does that (the jewelry) get divided up? None of the material possessions were mentioned in the will, and most were valued at probably $10-200 per item. My guess would be that it (the jewelry) should be appraised and become part of the estate and the same divide by 4 rule be applied. Your thoughts?

  • gibbslawfl August 5, 2021, 12:08 pm

    Hi Tom, thanks for commenting. Yes, your common sense approach is likely correct; granted, for concrete advice you would need a consultation as this is really just a guess offered for educational purposes, having not reviewed the documents, etc.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • K August 8, 2021, 7:30 pm

    Hello, my mother passed away in May 2021, my brother is the executor of her will. My brother, sister and myself are beneficiaries. I just received the paper work for probate And the estimated value of her home is the county tax estimate. My brother doesn’t think it is worth having the house appraised and plans to sell it for around $200,000.00 the county value is 145,000.00 . He thinks that we should just pay the tax on the difference because it’s not really our money, I disagree. If that $145,000.00 valuation is on the court papers being submitted is that considered as the value of the house for federal tax purposes? Also, I haven’t signed and returned the papers to the attorney my brother hired. What happens if I don’t sign? Thank you for sharing your experience with us lay people.

  • Donna August 10, 2021, 11:10 am

    My mom died this past December. She has two children, myself and my brother. I am executor of her will. I live in NJ and my mom was a resident of Florida. My mom passed at my home and the death certificate had her as NJ resident, in December of 2018. Her will was made in NJ and lawyer made her resident of New Jersey as she was a snow bird and I took her to lawyer in Jersey for her will. After her death I had the will probated in state of NJ. She owns a condo in Florida which my brother wants to buy me out. I am fine with that but a real estate lawyer in Florida says he need to probate the will in Florida even though it has already been done I had the state of NJ Amend her death certificate to show she was a Florida resident and her will clearly states all her assets to be split 50/50 with my brother and I. I dont know the law and I don’t understand why this lawyer has to do all this probate in Florida and a petition for Ancillary Administration for my brother so he can handle the Florida real estate. He is saying it’s all because her will says she is Jersey resident and she has been a homestead Florida resident for over 30 years. It was a mistake that we didn’t catch as she also lived with me in the summer.
    I did all her bills and her main bank account which I was in so I could pay them was in NJ
    The lawyer is charging over $5000 to do all this Probate, petition to determine homestead status of real property and all we want to do is have my brother buy my share of my mothers condo. And for him to own the condo
    Since I don’t know real estate law I’m just unsure if all that needs to be involved. I told lawyer that if I had to pay back taxes because did her will shows at end of 2018 she was NJ resident. Is all this really necessary?

    Thanks for your time

  • gibbslawfl August 10, 2021, 12:36 pm

    Hello and thanks for commenting. Generally a CMA (comparative market analysis) is recommended whenver real property is sold and this is a fair alternative to a formal appraisal. Sometimes the terms are interchanged so it is unclear what your brother is saying. As far as the value for capital gains purposes, it would be the sale price; however, there should be a step up in basis. These are all questions for the probate attorney that you should be able to ask if you approach them cooperatively. Otherwise, they may think there is a conflict of interest and recommend you seek counsel. You really don’t have to sign papers until you get full disclosure. However, refusal to sign can result in additional legal fees and conflicts that probably can be avoided. If you’d like help with these issue, we do assist clients in a pre-litigation capacity.

    Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl August 10, 2021, 12:43 pm

    Hello Donna,

    This looks complicated and is why we make the case every day to get folks to do proper planning. If mom was declared a NJ resident and there is FL real property then, yes, a Florida ancillary administration is required regardless of the NJ probate. If there are back taxes, then yes they would need to be paid in NJ. Other questions concerning residency may need to be answered.

    Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Donna August 10, 2021, 1:14 pm

    Thank you, I appreciate your time. I will proceed with the lawyer down in Florida

  • Henry Mc August 22, 2021, 8:06 am

    Hello Si: I had a sister that died on July 1, 2021 , 3 weeks before she died , one of my sister and her executed a revocable trust where the sibblings are beneficiaries . In July 26 , my sibblings and me received a waiver and consent of full accounting and any liability claim to start distribution of the estate. The lawyer sent us the trust ,a letter and copy of a check with the waiver. The letter reads:
    upon receipt of your signed waiver and consent, we will mail a check to you for your share
    Of the Bonnie G, Neiman Revocable Trust. The lawyer signed the letter. Since were are giving up all our rights, 3 of the sibblings, we decided to sent a trustee (sister) a letter to reach a non judicial agreement of extra compensation in exchange to sign the waiver and give up our rights, We did not received any answer from the lawyer or my sister, so we finally decided to sign the waiver becuase we do not want to challenge the trust in court due to the onerous costs and length of time involved on it . We are on age of 76 to 84 year old and not in such good health, and our beneficiaries rights lapse after dead.The problem is after we signed the waivers we have not received our payment and the trustee and the lawyer do not answer our calls. Please, is there anything we can do. ?

  • gibbslawfl August 24, 2021, 12:15 pm

    Hello Henry, the short answer is that if you signed a waiver then the law firm needs to comply and send out payment. Without additional investigation it is difficult to comment further and a consultation is really the forum to do so.

    Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Scott L Sandler September 13, 2021, 10:26 pm

    Thank you for taking your time to answer all of our questions, to the best of your ability and obvious limitations.

    My questions refers to the necessity of hiring an attorney to oversee the disbursement of assets from my mother’s estate in FL who past the end of August, 2021. My brother was named the Executor of her will, with both of us being equal beneficiaries. Her estate has sizeable assets in stock (under 1M) at a prominent brokerage and somewhere under $50K+ in various bank accounts. She also has 5 investment properties which will probably have to go thru probate since they’re only in an LLC and not funded by the Trust.

    My question is, if I believe my brother is adequately answering my questions, giving me a full accounting when he gets statements, etc, & will provide me with a full disclosure of bills paid, would it be fair to say that an attorney wouldn’t necessarily be needed to oversee the disbursement of these assets, but most likely would be needed when we attempt to divided the rental properties?? Thank you in advance.

  • gibbslawfl September 13, 2021, 11:35 pm

    Hello Scott, you’re welcome and yet I’m concerned by your question and what limitations you’re referring to. I do this in order to offer general information for educational purposes only, and thus, if there are some limitations, it would be that a blog post is an inappropriate forum to offer feedback concerning complex legal scenarios. Detailed legal questions that are inquiring about the need for legal services, warrant a careful investigation of relevant documents and a full understanding of the facts in the context of a confidential attorney-client relationships. So, when you’re asking “would it be fair to say” followed by “that an attorney wouldn’t necessarily be needed” I am compelled to recommend that you schedule a consultation with a probate attorney in order to get that question properly answered.

    Best to you.

    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Susan October 19, 2021, 11:43 am

    Hi – thank you for taking the time to review my question and answer it, for educational purposes. My father in law recently passed away and left real property (house , vehicles , household contents) in Florida. My mother in law preceded him in death. He did not have a will. My sister in law lives in an adjacent property. My husband and my sister in law are the only heirs. There are no creditors. We have agreed to a summary administration with no personal representative. The papers have been filed in probate. My husband and his sister are estranged. My husband has requested keys to the property so that he can get an appraisal done, but he has been denied. Does he have a right to obtain keys? And if so, how can we require his sister to comply? We have a legal representative, but she is telling us we have a right to change the locks. We don’t want to have to break into the property to do that. We would instead prefer to get keys.

  • D Pieroni October 21, 2021, 11:18 am

    I am a NY resident and heir of a Fl estate. I have requested all transactions of the Fl Estate and neither the representative nor attorney will provide. This article advises I’m entitled to all transactions. How can I convince them to provide? Thank you

  • gibbslawfl October 21, 2021, 4:20 pm

    Hello Susan, of course and thanks for your question. If you have a legal representative I recommend directing specific questions to him/her and if this isn’t possible then we are taking new clients:). In general, your husband would have the right to access the property in order to change locks, etc. It appears that a probate should be filed and a personal representative needs to be appointed.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl October 21, 2021, 4:24 pm

    Hello, if you’re truly an “heir” you would be entitled to information. If they don’t provide you may need legal help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Elissa Berger November 3, 2021, 6:35 pm

    My mother passed away in May 0f 2021. She updated her will in March of 2021, leaving 40% to me, 40% to her granddaughter (daughter of my brother who died in September 2016), and the remainder to her nephews. She had several bank accounts of modest means.
    She also had a modest death benefit IRA, with my brother and I listed as beneficiaries. Since he died in 2016 and she never updated her IRA beneficiary form, does this mean that I get the entire IRA amount or does half go to my brother’s daughter, even thought this was not updated on the beneficiary form?

  • gibbslawfl November 5, 2021, 2:08 pm

    Hello Elissa, your question could depend upon how the IRA beneficiary form reads. Likely a probate for your brother would be needed to allocate the proceeds but impossible to know without a deeper dive into the facts. If you need a consultation, you can schedule directly from the website home page.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Joyce November 8, 2021, 5:17 pm

    I am the trustee of my mother’s trust. One of the beneficiaries, John, died after her, and I made his distribution check out to John’s estate. The executor of John’s estate does not want to accept this distribution until 2 years after John’s death. Should I just leave the money in there for 2 years, until they want to accept it?

  • gibbslawfl November 10, 2021, 10:27 am

    Good morning Joyce, you would benefit from a consultation rather than trying to handle this with a blog comment:) It may be that with the beneficiary predeceased, other beneficiaries are entitled to the share. You could be liable as trustee if you wrongfully distribute it. Proceed with extreme caution.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Lewis Horn December 7, 2021, 8:13 pm

    My aunt passed 10 years ago, and I recently found out that I was a beneficiary to her trust. The existence of the trust was only recently discovered upon the death of another family member that had a copy of the will. Is there an obligation of the trustee to notify beneficiaries? What if they failed to do so? Is there a statute of limitations on correcting what seems like an egregious omission or possible fraud?

  • Adrian D Moon December 8, 2021, 3:36 pm

    Hey there, I was notified in Oct 2020, that my sister and myself were joint beneficiaries (50/50) on my uncles estate, who passed Aug 2020. Going on 14 months later, the personal rep and her attorney are hard if not impossible to contact. Rarely have I received responses to e-mails or calls.
    The probate process, according to court filings I see online, does not appear to be progressing in any meaningful way, and I have a growing concern that the estate is being mismanaged, delayed etc. What to do next?? Can I request an up to date accounting? Thanks, Adrian

  • gibbslawfl December 20, 2021, 6:07 pm

    Hello Lewis, the short answer is you should have received notice. I suggest talking with a probate or trust litigation attorney and this isn’t an area that we currently focus on. Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl December 20, 2021, 6:08 pm

    Hello Adrian, the short answer is you are entitled to an accounting. That amount of time holding up the estate doesn’t appear responsible. You may need to speak with a probate or trust litigation attorney. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that we focus on.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Patricia January 1, 2022, 4:39 pm

    Thank you for the excellent & helpful information you have posted. Do you practice in South Florida/ Dade County?

  • Mary S. January 4, 2022, 11:34 am

    Hello, mother in law passed in July 2020. Probate in FL, she had property in another state, sold in April 2021. All creditors have been cleared. Have been informed the final accounting has been delayed due to out of state delays. No funds have been distributed to date. Any ideas as to why this would be delayed? Atty has requested a 4 month extension, not sure why.
    Can I petition the court to deny the extension and have the funds released ? Receiving limited to no communication from personal administrator as to reasons for extension or delays.

  • gibbslawfl January 6, 2022, 10:55 am

    Hello Patricia, we provide planning (non-litigation) services all over the state of Florida virtually. Let us know if we can help you.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl January 6, 2022, 10:58 am

    Hello Mary, we don’t practice in probate litigation and I suggest you obtain a consultation from someone who handles these kinds of cases.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Charles R. Kimmel January 9, 2022, 9:47 pm

    My question is:

    Facts: Assume the trustee is in Florida, The trust situs is in Florida. We want to move the trust to a new corporate trustee in another state. The trust document specifically states “At anytime, my Trustee may change the governing law of the trust; change the situs of the administration of the trust; and remove all or any part of the property from one jurisdiction to another”?

    If a Trustee moves the situs (place of administration) of the trust from Florida to another state, is the trustee required to give notice to the beneficiaries?

    Does the trust language permit the Trustee to ignore the requirement in Florida Statute 736.0108 that the Trustee give the Qualified Beneficiaries 60 days notice before initiating the transfer?

  • James Tyler January 9, 2022, 9:48 pm

    My question is:

    Facts: Assume the trustee is in Florida, The trust situs is in Florida. We want to move the trust to a new corporate trustee in another state. The trust document specifically states “At anytime, my Trustee may change the governing law of the trust; change the situs of the administration of the trust; and remove all or any part of the property from one jurisdiction to another”?

    If a Trustee moves the situs (place of administration) of the trust from Florida to another state, is the trustee required to give notice to the beneficiaries?

    Does the trust language permit the Trustee to ignore the requirement in Florida Statute 736.0108 that the Trustee give the Qualified Beneficiaries 60 days notice before initiating the transfer?

  • gibbslawfl January 9, 2022, 10:20 pm

    Hello Charles, this is really a question that warrants a detailed review of the trust and a thorough legal consultation.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl January 9, 2022, 10:21 pm

    Very tough and problematic to speak to questions about agreements without a thorough review and consultation.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Charles R. Kimmel January 10, 2022, 1:50 pm

    Just give me a guess. I am asking in your opinion, without a detailed review, do you think the specific trust language “At anytime, my Trustee may change the governing law of the trust; change the situs of the administration of the trust” would override the statutory requirement of giving notice of the change of situs, or would the statutory requirement remain?

  • gibbslawfl January 11, 2022, 12:52 pm

    My short guess for educational purposes only is that that language wouldn’t override notice requirements. However, a consultation would be needed to review the trust language and do a bit of research to confirm.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • William Curtis January 12, 2022, 11:33 pm

    My father passed away in 2003 and had no will. I was stationed in Alaska at the time. My brother and I are my father’s only heirs. He had remarried and lived with our stepmother. We were not notified of any probate proceedings at that time. At the time of his passing, he had outstanding mesothelioma lawsuits. My stepmother passed away in 2017. She received quite a few large payments over the years from the lawsuits and had quite a bit in the bank when she died.. When she passed away, our stepsister received almost all of her accounts, the house, and all contents. While reviewing documents, I found that my stepmother signed a document in 2003 indicating my father had no other living heirs. Upon further research, it’s my understanding that my brother and I should have received 50% of my father’s “estate”, while she should have received 50%. I’m not sure if that would have included any proceeds from the lawsuits, but is this something that I could pursue legally based upon fraudulent misrepresentation? Has it been too long? Are there time limitations? Since she left everything to her daughter (our stepsister), are we now considered “stepchildren” with no recourse?

  • gibbslawfl January 17, 2022, 12:32 pm

    Hello William, based upon your facts, it would appear that you should get a consultation with someone who practices in probate/estate litigation. Unfortunately, this isn’t our focus and you would want a reputable firm in you area in any event.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Gary W February 16, 2022, 12:32 am

    My father died October 2019 and i have not been notified about anything re: probate, open estate etc. i recently requested copies of the will from Palm Beach Court and am listed as beneficiary after my mother who is listed on the will as Personal Representative. My father signed the will less than 2 years before he died. On the original will it said I________ of sound mind and health etc but on the final will this is not included. My father was in late stage parkinson’s/dementia at the time this will was signed, he could barely speak or hold a pen. My concern is that his caregiver who was hired thru a nursing agency has had influence over my elderly feeble parents. He is still an employee of my mothers by creating a new position as her “personal assistant” “bill payer” ‘accounting manager” and this ex nurse/caregiver has possession of ALL my fathers personal files which has put me in in the dark. These is also an Effect Of Adoption provision in this final will that was not in the earlier will which is very concerning. What can i do about this situation? Do i need to have an Estate Administration? What can i do as a beneficiary and does my fathers Estate Attorney have obligations to inform me or is this the duty of the Personal Representative?

    Thanks so Much,

  • gibbslawfl February 22, 2022, 3:28 pm

    Hello Gary, if a probate is being filed, all documents would be public record so you could obtain them. With trusts you have a right to receive a copy of the trust and accounting information. If you aren’t getting cooperation, then you may need to hire counsel.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Kathleen Brack, MS Spec.Ed., Family Training, OGSC March 16, 2022, 7:06 pm

    I have worked with disabled, handicapped, veterans, advocacy for all also infant/school age families in NY and Fl. for over 45yrs. After moving to Fl. 8 yrs. ago I volunteer as an independent contractor Ex: free for all, unless your wealthy then you can give me gas money. One client, Lenny was being horribly abused, financially, medically, emotional, nutrition by live in alcoholic landlord. I became his POA (a first for me), his landlord had him sign everything over to himself previously. My client has no family, after his death a search was made. He has a Fidelity Rollover IRA-Rollover-IRA, they know I’m POA. It is worth $1,165.84. I am still volunteering but I only have SS for my income. I am now 75yr. old and Dr’s. are telling me I need to take care of myself medically in a number of body parts. So I was going to call Fidelity but I am not sure I should bother about this. I have no savings or retirement. Any advice will be sincerely appreciated. Sincerely, Ms. Kathy an old Advocate that has never given up on a family in need.

  • gibbslawfl April 4, 2022, 1:16 pm

    Hello Ms. Kathy, there are too many questions to address with this in a blog comment. 1 thought is the POA died with Lenny so that wouldn’t offer help with the IRA. That would likely pass to whomever is designated in a last will and if no will then to Lenny’s heirs by intestacy. This is just an observation for educational purposes only (not advice) and can’t say more without a thorough consultation.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Brian Denelly April 16, 2022, 5:18 pm

    I am the trustee of my deceased mother’s estate. There are 5 beneficiaries. Her condo was TOD. Four out of the 5 beneficiaries have agreed to sell the house to me. The holdout, my sister wants to wait until 2023 for tax reasons. Is there anyway this can be resolved to satisfy everyone? Also, can I purchase the willing beneficiaries shares?
    Thank you,
    Brian Dennelly

  • gibbslawfl April 25, 2022, 1:25 pm

    Hello Brian, when it comes to specific advice and potential liability for you as trustee, I recommend that you consult with and retain an experienced trust attorney rather than relying on a blog comment. Let us know if we can help.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Sandy May 1, 2022, 3:55 pm

    Do beneficiaries of insurance policies that the executor knows of have the right to privacy. For example a woman in her 50s is a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. The executor a different person and they are family members say Aunt and the niece is the beneficiary. Does the niece have a right not to have amounts shared or even the fact they are a beneficiary with anyone? This is a yes or no question. Thank you for your help.

  • gibbslawfl May 2, 2022, 12:04 pm

    Hi Sandy, there are very few “yes or no questions” in the law. However, the general rule is the beneficiary proceeds would pass independently of the rest of the estate.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Maryellen May 20, 2022, 9:11 pm

    I have a will. Everything I have, other than my home, has beneficiaries or PODs to various charities. . I am single, no children.
    I want to leave my home to a charity. Can I do a ladybird deed to a charity? If,so and nothing goes through probate, will my executor be responsible for the informing and distribution of all this?

    And how will she be paid for her time and expenses if everything is not going through probate?

  • gibbslawfl May 25, 2022, 11:24 am

    Hello Maryellen, if you want to have greater flexibility, designate a charity and make sure you’re successor can get a reasonable fee for coordinating, then the way to go is have a simple trust prepared to distribute your home.

    I can prepare a trust remotely and send it to you with signing instructions. The process begins with a questionnaire and I will provide a flat fee proposal for whatever work is agreed upon.

    If you would like to start this process, email me at steven@gibbslawfl.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Alison B. May 25, 2022, 9:07 pm

    My father passed last month in Florida where he lived. I live in California, my sister in Pennsylvania. He was estranged from his entire family for 10+ years brothers, nieces, nephews, myself, my sister and our children. We were contacted by his friend, who requested our contact information for an attorney to contact us. We have made several attempts to get information with no response other than his “personal representative ” who was his friend said she didn’t have to tell us anything “yet”. Through digging of my own I found his paperwork online for his house he owned most of our lives that was for a “living trust”. His death certificate was signed as remains recieved from this personal representative as well. Even if we are not beneficiaries aren’t they supposed to send us his trust copies stating such? Wouldn’t they tell us up front if we are disinherited? We found out this week less than a month after he died they have his house for sale already? No will filed with the county but if he only had the trust it doesn’t require probate so it doesn’t get filed in court? Can they sell property without notifying the heirs whether we are beneficiaries or not? How do I get confirmation on his trust? Do I have rights to have it as his daughter?

    Thank you.

  • gibbslawfl June 1, 2022, 12:02 pm

    Hello Alison, for complicated scenarios like this, it works better to schedule a consultation via zoom since you are seeking legal advice here and it this forum is only for educational commentary.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Ellie June 20, 2022, 9:07 pm

    Hi My Dad passed away, He had a Life Insurance Policy that he left my sister and I as Beneficiary. Then he had a annuity that he left me as the Beneficiary both with a Union. Does that need to be part of the probate process, he had a Will and only money in the bank with no Beneficiary.

  • Ann June 25, 2022, 2:10 pm

    I am a beneficiary to a trust my father created in 2012 before his passing in 2016. My mother was to be primary and I am secondary. After his passing, my mother took my father’s name off the deed the co owned and had her name only on it. She and I have had a falling out last year and she threatened that I would no longer be the secondary beneficiary to the trust he created and has refused to let me view documents or codicils to the written trust. Can she remove me as secondary beneficiary and how can I enforce my rights as one by receiving a copy of the trust and any codicils to it to protect my rights?

  • gibbslawfl June 27, 2022, 11:33 am

    Hello Ellie, it sounds like the money in the bank would require a probate to distribute but likely not the life policy or the annuity if there are beneficiary designations. You may be benefitted by obtaining a legal consultation to confirm the status since this is only for educational purposes.


  • gibbslawfl June 27, 2022, 11:37 am

    Hello Ann, all of this would depend on how the trust was drafted. If your mother participated in the trust then she may have the ability to amend it. As a beneficiary you do generally have the right to a copy.

    I sounds like you may benefit from a consultation with an estate litigator and this is something we don’t do.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • John Jiono July 12, 2022, 3:16 pm

    My Father died and my brother is the POA. After waiting 6 months for a reply to a letter about estate documentation for my Father’s trust, I was told by his Trustee that I was one of several decendants to receive a specific gift. And that after the specific gift distribution the balance of my Dad’s trust would go to my Mother’s trust as well as his life insurance benefits.
    I was told that as a specific gift beneficiary that I had no right to bank statements, estate appraisals, tax return filings and other trust administration. I was told that after my Mother dies that I would be entitled to all information as I would be a residuary beneficuary. I was under the impression that I was allowed to see all trust details. I also thought that I was a life insurance benefit but now this supposedly is all going into my Mom’s trust. My Brother and I are supposed to split everything 50/50 in my Moms will. My brother actively blocked me from participating in the division of personal property at their home. He even emptied it while both were still alive and took 2/3 of what was to be 50/50 and sent lesser value (monetary and personal) items (many broken). As well as taking all the jewelry, etc without appraisal.
    Now with the lack details on what has occurred and what I have experienced. I am wondering- am I really not entitled to information on my Dad’s trust and my Mom’s now? (My Mom is alive and has Diabetic Dementia). Thank you

  • gibbslawfl July 15, 2022, 3:33 pm

    Hello John it sounds like you need a legal consultation and thus it really isn’t a good idea to speculate in a blog comment. Your question requires some thought and additional discussion before making recommendations. You can schedule a consultation at gibbslawFL.com.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • JSomers July 22, 2022, 1:41 pm

    I am the beneficiary (in NY) of my deceased aunts annuity. She lived in Florida. I filed with the short form death certificate, was told they need long form. I contacted Department of Health in Sumter County and was told a cause of death isn’t needed for annuities. Is this true? Annuity was written in Florida, so you’d think the company would know that. Who’s right?? Thank you so much!

  • Amanda lewis July 31, 2022, 7:28 pm

    My husband is a on will but he was young and his unkel got it foreclosed (HOUSE) WHY DIDNT HE GET IT or was told about it he and I are homeless andante cleaning property outside up staying in back shed what r his rites also if he was appointed as her beneficiary so why didnt he now also why was he not told and if the house is under foreclose how can I get it back seeing as he didnt get a chance to fight for it

  • gibbslawfl August 3, 2022, 4:34 pm

    It sounds like you need legal advice and cannot provide this is a blog comment which is strictly an educational forum.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl August 3, 2022, 4:34 pm

    It sounds like you need legal advice and cannot provide this is a blog comment which is strictly an educational forum.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Catherine McEntee August 8, 2022, 9:46 pm

    An attorney of record, who was also the personal rep, for my deceased Sister’s Estate, kept the safe deposit key in his possession for 4 months ( I have pictures of the safe deposit key on the day it was handed over the the lawyer’s secretary). When we requested twice for him to go into the safe deposit box he refused and always had excuses until my elder sister forced the issue. When the safe deposit box was finally opened after 4 months, my deceased Sister’s Will was found.During that time he gave away numerous assets illegally to persons not mentioned in the Will. This unethical attorney knew exactly what he was doing! He wanted the P.R. Commission Fees before his duty as a fiduciary to open the safe deposit box in a timely manner. I have absolutely no respect for this Florida Lawyer, who purposedly tried to give excuses and mislead us into not opening the box, ALL, so he could remain the P.R. and earn the P.R. Commission Fees. Meanwhile, my deceased Sister’s Funeral Arrangements and last wishes for the disbursement of her assets were in that Will.
    Catherine McEntee,
    Sister, and succesor P.R. of my deceased Sister’s Estate

  • gibbslawfl August 22, 2022, 11:47 am

    Hello Catherine, sorry for your situation. There are certainly bad apple in every bunch. We certainly see that at the national level amongst our politicians.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Sylvia September 3, 2022, 10:19 pm

    Hi, I asked the my late mother’s estate trustee to leave all utilities on by continue paying the bills. He closed the account that automatically paid the Bill’s. By law doesn’t the trustee have to inform me of hese changes?

  • gibbslawfl September 12, 2022, 12:19 pm

    Hello Sylvia, that in my opinion is probably a grey area – meaning that your trustee has discretion to make business decisions that are in good faith without notifying or collaborating with beneficiaries. However, this is just an observation for educational purposes only. This is not a forum for legal advice and it sounds like you may need a consultation to review the facts in more detail as well as the trust.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Susan Montgrain September 29, 2022, 5:05 pm

    Hello … I was with my wife for 23 years. We had a civil union in Vermont in 2005 … we lived in the state of florida when we did this . We owned property together , we had a real marriage ! We raised my 2 girls together… we both worked at the USPS . My question is : when she retired( 2013) the post office did not have the paper that she filled out to change me as her beneficiary so they still had the original paper work from when she was single and she put her brother as her beneficiary (1984) anyway , I did not k ow this paper was missing until I put in for benefits after she passed on 11/11/2021. That would not have been an issue but her brother died 10 days after her , before I received info that he was still the beneficiary. So, his niece was his beneficiary… so I told her to put in for probate to claim it and she said I should have it . She doesn’t want to “ deal” it and is refusing to claim it . Can she sign it over time me? I guess spouse would get it but the state is refusing to recognize our union .

  • epattyj October 11, 2022, 1:54 am

    My husband and I live in FL and are creating our wills. Why do Florida wills simply list identification of family. We want to make each other is the sole beneficiaries to our estates. The surviving spouse will then leave the estate we built together, to our five children. But when I review the wills there is no mention of the spouse being the sole beneficiary of the estate. It does however make note that the residuary estate goes to the spouse.

  • gibbslawfl October 18, 2022, 1:25 pm

    Hello Susan, a blog comment really isn’t the forum for this because you need a legal consultation to have everything looked at in detail.

    Best. Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl October 18, 2022, 1:30 pm

    Generally where someone is married, a spouse is the initial and sole beneficiary if he or she survives the other. The kids could be contingent. It seems like you’re confusing a will with trust where a spouse can be an initial beneficiary for life and then the share passes to the contingent kids.

    More information via a legal consultation is needed.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Lisa November 4, 2022, 7:49 pm

    Does a trustee have the right to demand signatures from beneficiaries to close the trust before they distribute the funds in the trust?

  • Lisa November 6, 2022, 10:34 am

    Can a trust be closed without the beneficiaries signature agreement to close?

  • gibbslawfl November 8, 2022, 11:07 am

    Hello Lisa, generally a trustee will ask beneficiaries to sign off on an accounting before making distributions. It makes sense for a trustee to protect themselves from liability down the road. Beyond that you should consult a trust attorney if you have concerns.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl November 8, 2022, 11:08 am

    Generally speaking, and for educational purposes only, I wouldn’t recommend that a trust be closed without the sign off of beneficiaries. However, the Trustee could then without distributions based upon the refusal to sign off.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Marilym November 13, 2022, 5:57 am

    I have a paid pre-need cremation agreement for myself. When the agreement was originally signed, an error was made in the beneficiary where it was shown the beneficiary was my boyfriend not me. How do I correct this error so there is legal proof for the change to me?

  • gibbslawfl November 14, 2022, 11:05 am

    Hello, I honestly have no idea. You’ll need to go back to whomever you contracted with and tell them an error was made.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Jenn December 7, 2022, 2:51 pm

    Thx for your posting. It covered a lot. I work in probate in Connecticut. Dealing with probate of my mother’s estate there in Florida. I find it’s a whole different world. Can you enlighten me regarding legal fees incurring on part of the co-executors. There were 6. Now two (including a litigator hired by an executor). Then a new attorney was hired thru the court as the one executor with the litigator refuses to be deposed re large sums of money stolen. Is the estate responsible for these legal fees as these acts were done prior to his appointment? Any help would be great – thx

  • gibbslawfl December 7, 2022, 3:36 pm

    Hi Jenn, unfortunately probate is very state specific so anything I would volunteer could be completely different in CT. My advice is to connect with a CT probate attorney. Thanks for connecting though:)

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Kevin December 11, 2022, 7:16 pm

    My brother recently passed and i suspext that shortly before he died, when he was relatively incapacitated mentally due to his cancer state and medications, his husband moved most of his financial assets to his 401k which he was named sole recipient of. Is there any chance of getting access to detailed financial records in florida? I am a beneficiary in his will.

  • gibbslawfl December 13, 2022, 2:28 pm

    Hello, you really need to talk with probate/estate litigation attorney in Florida as these kinds of conflicts haven’t been a focus area for me.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Michelle January 3, 2023, 8:34 pm

    Hello, my son recently passed and his 15 year old son is the beneficiary of his life insurance. I need to pay funeral and creditors. I also understand they will not pay to a minor. Do I file probate with court in order to collect and pay expenses and would like to set a trust up for grandson. He was not married and has only me (mother) and one son. Thanks in advance.

  • gibbslawfl January 4, 2023, 11:32 am

    Hi Michelle, for educational purposes only, you’re correct concerning the fact that the life insurance beneficiary is a minor creates complications that likely will necessitate probate. As for other questions, such as setting up a trust, the court may also require a guardianship appointment or a custodial account for the minor. These issues warrant an in-depth consultation with an experienced probate attorney in your son’s state of residency.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Nic February 23, 2023, 1:45 pm

    Good afternoon Mr. Gibbs,
    I want to thank you for taking time to answer the many posts received on this topic, and ask for a little guidance. Last year we received a distribution from a trust created for property that was in the family. The sole trustee passed away unexpectedly. I’ve been told for the trust to be created/registered an attorney or CPA would have been required. I’ve searched all public records and all of the documents only have the trustee named. I checked with trust registration for FL, and they have no record. Is there an entity we can contact to get assistance with the funds distribution for tax purposes? Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  • gibbslawfl March 2, 2023, 1:34 pm

    Hello Nic, since you’re asking for guidance, I have to mention that forums and ultimately for educational purposes only and where advice is needed, you could easily be swayed in the wrong direction since there is no opportunity to gather information about your specific situation. That said, you might start with the IRS to see if a tax return was filed or an EIN was obtained for the trust.

    Best of luck to you.

    Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Martina Lumb March 23, 2023, 8:57 am

    Do I have do sign a release document to protect the trustee before getting my part of a trust if it is not stated in the trust that I must do so?

  • Zach Pederson April 14, 2023, 9:07 pm

    Mr. Gibbs my question for you is What happens if after probate issues funds and in that process one of the beneficiaries passes away. Example my Grandma passed away my Uncle who was the oldest became executor of the estate, my mom is the middle, and my other uncle all recieved checks for 92,000 but shortly after my youngest uncle died of a overdose and his check was never cashed, my Oldest Uncle then said that my mom and himself would be eligable to split his portion of the estate, but in doing so my oldest uncle passed away as well without telling us what happened to the check. This would leave my mom as the sole survivor of the estate meaning the check that cant be found would be null and void? Does my mom have to go to the same probate lawyer that issued the check in order to receive the remaining 92.000? What happens if my uncle found a way to cash the check for himself where does that leave my mother? In short towards the end of my eldest uncles life he did not carry out his duties as executor properly leaving my mom in the dark for six months before he died. What are the necessary steps to collect the money that was left, and if the money was cashed somehow how can we find out who cashed it? Let alone be able to get the remaining money back.?

    Thank you and any help or advice would be greatly appreciated being I live in Chicago but my mother is down in Florida trying to figure this out and guidance is greatly needed.


  • Sherri Nelson April 20, 2023, 5:00 pm

    My father passed away and had a trust that designated certain dollars for each beneficiary. At the time of the trust, he is not doing well financially, so he left my sister and I a certain percentage and the rest to my brother. My brother wants to provide my sister and I with more, is he required to notify the other beneficiaries that are receiving smaller amounts? Those beneficiaries are grand children. This is not in probate and we do not plan on the case going into probate.

  • Carol April 27, 2023, 1:34 am

    Great article! I am a beneficiary (4 of us) and there are 2 properties to be sold, one in Florida and one out of state. We are going on 6 mo of probate. The executor has become sick and in hospital over a month now. He has said from the beginning that no one else is allowed in the houses without him and no one is allowed to help in any way according to his attorneys. Is this true? We really need someone staying in and coordinating the vast land and buildings on the one property. Is there any way around this? Thank you. Otherwise it’s looking like this probate could last way past a year.

  • gibbslawfl May 9, 2023, 11:59 am

    Hello Martina, that is standard procedure and something any smart attorney would counsel their trustee to obtain. You may want to seek a consultation if you are not happy with your trustee’s performance.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl May 9, 2023, 12:02 pm

    Hi Zach, I really can’t comment because that is a factual question for your probate attorney in FL due to the necessity of facts that I’m not privy to. If your mom isn’t happy with him/her, she should seek other counsel.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl May 9, 2023, 12:08 pm

    Hello Sherri, all of this would appear to depend on the actual trust language. I really can’t comment further as this would require a consultation.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • gibbslawfl May 9, 2023, 12:10 pm

    Hello Carol, an executor can be substituted/replaced; however, this could depend on the language of the will and should be brought up to your probate attorney.

    Best, Steve Gibbs, Esq.

  • Trying to do the right thing May 19, 2023, 12:03 am

    Hi. Hopefully a quick question and response. If someone is suing an estate and the PR, under his/her duties to uphold the will/trust, does not want to settle/mediate can a beneficiary override that decision or does the PR have the final say on behalf of the best interest of the estate? Thank you for taking the time!

  • Antonio Marshall May 24, 2023, 10:34 am

    Good morning, I have a question concerning beneficiaries. My grandmother passed away this year, leaving a home to be dissolved. My mother preceded my grandmother in death, therefore the question is whether or not my sister and I are beneficiaries of the estate on behalf of our deceased mother. Or did our claim to the estate void with our mothers passing? There was no will.