In certain circumstances, Florida law may allow for the reopening of a probate estate. This could be due to the discovery of additional assets or a new will. A testamentary estate can be reopened after it has been closed and the personal representative has been discharged for various reasons. It is important to note that these provisions apply to successions executed under formal administration. Under Florida summary administration, the estate subject to the succession is neither opened nor closed, since no personal representative is appointed.
Any person interested in the Florida succession or inheritance can file a petition to reopen the estate. To do this, a petition must be filed with the probate court to explain why the estate should be reopened. When an estate is closed administratively, the probate court typically withdraws, revokes, or rescinds the “letters of administration”, which gave authority to the personal representative to administer the estate. Most likely, the court will also withdraw any order appointing the personal representative. Therefore, if you are looking to reopen a Florida estate that has been administratively closed, your request should be directed to who will act as a personal representative.
Once the court accepts your request to reopen the estate and when the court appoints a personal representative to manage the Florida estate, the succession process in Florida can continue. To ensure you are not exposed to uncertainty, it is best to contact a specialized probate attorney from Jurado & Associates. During probate processing, one of the functions of the personal representative is to locate all of the heirs mentioned in the will. Probate is the court-supervised process for distributing a deceased person's estate to heirs and legitimate beneficiaries. Article 733.208 of the state created some confusion as to whether this prohibition of reopening successions when a new or subsequent will or codicil was discovered applied to intestate successions (successions that were administered to people who died without a will), in addition to testamentary successions. In 1984, the Court of Appeal for the Second District of Florida clarified this confusion and held that no proceeding is allowed “if a subsequent or unknown will is discovered after the termination of the succession and the dismissal of the personal representative in a testamentary or intestate proceeding”.
If assets are discovered after an estate has been closed, it can be reopened to legalize recently discovered assets. Juan Antunez from Stokes McMillan Antunez Martinez-Lejarza P. Espejo-Norton (a case I wrote about here) is an example of this. The usual rule in Florida is that an estate will not be reopened even if a legitimate heir has been excluded. Upon discovering a later will or codicil, any interested person can request either revocation of the previous will or legalization of the later will or codicil. Reopening an estate in Florida can be complicated and time-consuming.
It is important to understand all of your rights and obligations before taking any action. If you are considering reopening an estate in Florida, it is best to consult with an experienced probate attorney who can help you navigate through this process.