One question we get often is “I got this joinder, waiver, and consent- should I sign it?” Like many other questions we receive there is not a one size fits all answer. The answer will depend on a number of factors. These often include the relationships of the decedent, the assets of the decedent, the location of the assets, the use of the assets, and if there is a will, to whom the decedent devised the asset.
What is a Joinder, Waiver, and Consent?
The technical requirements are laid out in Florida Probate Rule 5.180. A joinder waiver and consent is a document that does three things. First, “joinder” expresses that you are adding your voice to that of the petitioner in asking for the relief requested in the petition. This you saying “I also want the thing that was asked for in the Petitions mentioned.”
Second, the waiver expresses that you are not requiring the petitioner to serve you with a copy of the petition under the probate rules or rules of civil procedure, as appropriate. The waiver also tells the court that you do not want to have a hearing. This means if you sign the document, you are giving up your opportunity to request a hearing on the petition and be heard by the judge.
Finally, the consent tells the clerk and judge that you agree to them entering an order granting the relief requested in the petition. This is you saying “I give the court my permission to enter the relief requested.
Why Did I Get a Joinder, Waiver, and Consent
Joinder, waiver, and consent is a common form used in the administration of estates. These are required by Florida Statutes 731.302. It is something that looks suspicious to people who only deal with probate issues in Florida once in a while, but it is a common form.
Most times you will get a joinder, waiver, and consent because you are interested in the probate in some way. You may be an heir that may be entitled to act as personal representative, a creditor, a beneficiary under a will, or an heir entitled to property through intestacy.
If you have been asked to sign a joinder, waiver, and consent, it is because the petitioner thinks the court will not rule on their petition without your input. In most cases, that is probably right. Sometimes, though, we will ask people to sign them out of an abundance of caution. In some cases, the court can still rule in favor of the petitioner even if you don’t sign it.
Should I Sign a Joinder, Waiver, and Consent?
This is where I can’t give you a “yes” or “no” without knowing the specific facts of your case. We get a lot of people asking this exact question. Often when I have a consultation with someone asking this question, we end up back at “it depends.”
While I may not be able to tell you in a blog post you should or should not sign the joinder, waiver, and consent, what I can tell you is that you should seek advice of an attorney before signing. Sometimes the petition accompanying the joinder, and consent is clearly asking for relief that will seriously prejudice the beneficiary. I may not be able to say “yes, sign that joinder, waiver, and consent,” but I may be able to tell you “You need to hire us to protect your interests in this case ASAP!”
What Will Happen if I don’t sign?
Unfortunately there is a lot of language specific to probate that most people may not understand. The law is well known for using its own language. This makes many people want to ignore legal documents.
If you ignore the documents served with the joinder waiver and consent, the court may enter an order granting the relief requested in the petition. This may mean you lose your interest in the probate estate.
Some counties have clerks and judges who will not use the absence of a joinder, waiver, and consent the same way they would use the failure to respond to a complaint- a default judgment more or less. They may, in some rare cases, refuse to enter any relief until there is a signed joinder, waiver, and consent. I would not advise betting that the court will look out for you in this case.
If you have received a joinder, waiver, and consent and you think you are being taken advantage of Contact us today for a free consultation.