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Last Updated: October 27, 2023
Legally Reviewed by:
David Di Pietro
Managing Partner, Probate Attorney

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Tortious Interference With Inheritance in Florida

Physical copy of a Florida Last Will and Testament that's crossed off in black marker to symbolize dying without a will which leads to intestate succession

Navigating the loss of a loved one can be a challenging time, made even more complex when one discovers that they have been deprived of an expected inheritance. For those in Florida facing such circumstances, there is a legal avenue known as tortious interference with an expected inheritance.

It’s important to note that information within this page can help guide someone in the right direction and answer general questions; however, this is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Consulting with a probate attorney is not only advised, but required in the State of Florida when dealing with the complex nature of inheritance disputes.

Understanding Tortious Interference with Inheritance

Tortious interference pertains to situations where an intended beneficiary is denied their rightful inheritance due to the wrongful actions of a third party. Whether you are a direct heir, a friend, or a business associate promised something in the deceased’s will, this civil action seeks to ensure that the decedent’s genuine wishes are upheld.

To succeed in a Florida tortious interference claim, the claimant must demonstrate:

  • A legitimate expectation of an inheritance.
  • Interference by a third party via wrongful conduct.
  • A direct link between the wrongful conduct and the interference.
  • Financial or emotional harm experienced due to the interference.

It’s worth noting that this lawsuit can only be initiated after the death of the testator, making it unique and somewhat challenging due to evidentiary issues. Nonetheless, Florida law offers specific presumptions that can shift the burden of proof, aiding the claimant in their pursuit of justice.

Distinction from Will Challenges for Undue Influence

Tortious interference claims closely resemble Will challenges based on undue influence. Both aim to address inappropriate interference that leads to beneficiaries not receiving their due. However, while Will challenges are resolved within the Florida probate process, tortious interference claims are filed in a civil court. It’s crucial to exhaust all available probate remedies before proceeding with a tortious interference claim.

Recognizing Tortious Interference

Tortious interference can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Fraud: A relative misleading the testator about another beneficiary’s circumstances.
  • Coercion: Threats or pressure to alter the will.
  • Undue Influence: Manipulation by caregivers or close confidants.
  • Defamation: Spreading false information about a beneficiary to influence the testator.
  • Misappropriation: Unlawful removal or allocation of assets meant for a beneficiary.

Remedies for Beneficiaries

Proving damages is vital for a successful claim. Beneficiaries must establish both their expectation and the value of their lost inheritance. Those who can substantiate their losses can seek compensation, consequential damages for recovery efforts, and even punitive damages for the wrongful acts of the interfering party.

Lawyers for Tortious Interference Claims

For anyone in Florida grappling with the loss of an expected inheritance, it’s essential to have the right legal team on your side. Our experienced probate and estate litigation lawyers have decades of trial experience in estate disputes and tortious interference claims.

If you or a loved one have a claim or are being charged with Tortious Interference our experienced estate attorneys can help you navigate this complex area of law. Contact Di Pietro Partners and schedule a free consultation today.

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