What are you to do if you have a claim against a person who has passed away, but no probate case has been opened? If you are worried that a Florida probate case will be opened without your knowledge and that you will not be notified of the probate proceedings, you may file a caveat in the county where the person died.
What is a caveat?
A caveat is a document that is filed with the probate court that will require the clerk to give you notice if there is a probate case opened for the person named in the caveat. Caveats are governed by section 731.110, Florida Statutes and Florida Probate Rule 5.260. Under Florida Probate Rule 5.260(f) the court “must not admit a will of the decedent to probate or appoint a personal representative without service of formal notice on the caveator or the caveator’s designated agent.” In other words, the decedent’s probate estate cannot be opened without sending formal notice to you if you have filed a caveat. Once you receive the formal notice required by the statute and the Florida Probate Rules, it is up to you and your legal counsel to take appropriate action in the probate case to protect your interests.
What do you use a caveat for?
A caveat may be helpful if a person is indebted to you or a company that you own or work for and that person passes away. You may have some knowledge that the person had some money or other assets and you want to make sure that you or your company gets paid out of the probate estate. After watching the probate cases for a few weeks after the person’s death, you find that a probate has not been filed. Instead of constantly watching the probate case records or paying your attorney to constantly watch the probate case, you or your company can file a caveat in the county where the person died. With the caveat, you will receive notice when there is a probate estate opened in the decedent’s name, which will enable you to take appropriate action to collect the debt.
Now a caveat only works if there is a probate case opened and a caveat does not force the personal representative to open probate for the decedent. As a result, sometimes a caveat is not the appropriate course to take when you are owed a debt by a person who has passed away.
Contact us today if you have questions about your rights in a Florida probate case.
If you are a creditor of a person who has passed away, contact us for a free consultation about your legal issue. If you are concerned that a probate case will be opened and you will not be notified, one of our attorneys will be able to explain your rights and propose a course of action to help you. Our attorneys may be able to recommend a course of action for you to protect your interest in a probate estate or advise you on whether a caveat may help in your situation.