In Florida, the Notice of Administration is a formal document that seeks to notify all interested parties of the decedent’s death, as well as the filing of their last will and testament as part of the probate proceedings. Specifically, this will mention a time period within which objections to probate proceedings must be filed in order to be considered valid, and after which they will be forever barred.
There are multiple avenues that a recipient of a Notice of Administration can take to try to put a stop to the administration of an estate or challenge the validity of a will. Most commonly, recipients will cite various legal bases such as Improper Signing of the Will, Lack of Mental Capacity, Duress, Undue Influence and International Interference with an Expectancy.
Unfortunately, many individuals unknowingly forfeit their chances at having an equitable outcome in these situations due to verbal agreements made outside of the provisions of the Notice. The notice provisions override any deals, assurances, promises, etc that were made to recipients that if they were not to contest the administration of the estate that they would get their fair share of the estate. In situations where there is a limited time for contesting a Notice of Administration, this can be an irreversible outcome with devastating financial consequences for the recipients of the estate.
How this Process Works
When a decedent passes away, their estate is settled by the personal representative of the estate, also known as the executor. Per Florida Law, the probate process requires the assistance of a probate attorney to ensure everything is completed correctly. When the executor begins the process of probating the estate, they are required to serve a Notice of Administration to the following parties:
- Decedents surviving spouse, if applicable
- The estates beneficiaries
- Trustees and beneficiaries of any trust that may be part of the estate
- Any parties that may be entitled to receive property from the estate, even those not explicitly listed
It should be noted that any party that is a minor or under legal guardianship must be notified through their parent, custodian or legal guardian. Even though it is not legally required, it is recommended that executors serve a notice of administration to individuals who may have an interest in the estate even if they are not listed as beneficiaries.
Florida Law requires that a notice of administration is sent out promptly. Even if not legally required, it is important these notices are sent as soon as possible as the time limit for interested parties to file a response or dispute begins once the notice is served. It is strongly recommended that executors send notices through certified mail or by utilizing a process server in order to ensure that its receipt cannot be disputed.