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What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Probate Lawsuit in Miami, FL?

In Florida, when settling the estate of a deceased person through the probate process, disputes can become lengthy and complicated, making it advisable to meet the deadlines for filing ahead of time and with confidence.

That deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is essentially a timer for the limit of when you can legally file your lawsuit. If you bypass this time limit, you will likely lose your chance to take legal action in probate court.

However, if you do miss this deadline, there may still be options available. We recommend working with a probate attorney to help you understand the statute of limitations for your claim, so you can confront your case without worrying that you've missed your legal opportunity.

If you are worried that you have indeed missed the statute of limitations, or you aren't sure how this deadline applies to your case, our law office can assess your circumstances and try to provide you with the best possible solution. At Miami Family Law Group, we work to assure our clients are on the right track when it comes to court processes, the statute of limitations, and all other aspects of a probate case.

Make sure your case is on the right track today. Call Miami Family Law Group at 305-520-7874.

What Are the Statutes of Limitations?

Probate can be a confusing legal field, and for those who haven't faced it before, confronting the court proceedings, paperwork, deadlines, and other legal requirements can get overwhelming quickly.

The deceased individual may have clearly laid out how to process probate for their estate with a concise will or may have had a revocable trust that bypasses probate entirely. Regardless, knowing and understanding the statute of limitations is key to protecting your legal rights and interests in any case, especially in probate.

The statute of limitations is the legal rule that establishes the timeframe for when a lawsuit can be filed. This time limit is set to ensure legal disputes are resolved promptly, and that old claims don't arise far past their relevance.

The Statute of Limitations in Florida

The Florida statute of limitations period for probate starts from the moment the "cause of action" arises, which in these cases is typically the day the decedent (the person who owned the estate) passed away. The date may also start from when a legal issue related to the case surfaced, or the day a formal notice of administration is sent to creditors.

The general statute of limitation in Miami for a probate lawsuit is two years from the date of the decedent's death. This means that either a beneficiary, creditor, or other interested parties must file their claim within this period.

However, Florida statutes of limitations can vary depending on the type of probate dispute. For example, a will contest, which is a challenge to the validity of a will, could have a different time limit as opposed to a breach of fiduciary duty claim against the personal representative or beneficiary.

Depending on the factors, the deadline can be extended, tolled (paused), or simply altered. Yet, with these changes, there will still be a timeline to adhere to, making it essential to work with an experienced probate lawyer to distinguish what time constraints apply to you.

Consequences of Missing the Statute of Limitations

When it comes to probate claims, missing the statute of limitations can have serious consequences for those wishing to make their case. The biggest consequence being: the loss of the right to pursue legal action in probate court.

Although these time limits may seem straightforward, unexpected issues can come up and quickly make things more complicated. For instance, you may suddenly discover that the will you thought was valid, wasn't, or that the asset distribution wasn't done in a fair manner or on the terms of the deceased individual's wishes.

To avoid missing any deadlines, it's first necessary to make sure that there are no major issues in the probate case. Working with a lawyer trained in probate and estate law can ensure your case is fair and legally valid, and if not, that your claim is asserted before the time period has passed.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

As we mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to the normal statute of limitations to file claims under Florida probate rules. Such exceptions may save those who fear they have lost their opportunity to act.

Exceptions include:

Fraud - If fraud is uncovered within a probate case, it can certainly impact the statute of limitations. For instance, if a will was made fraudulently, the time limit can be put on pause, either until the fraud is fully proven or reset to when it should have been discovered under diligent search. Although fraud is both unfair and illegal, in this case, it can potentially be of benefit to the injured party wishing to make a probate claim. Typically, a claim of fraud aimed at the personal representative needs to be filed no later than a year after their final discharge.

Undue influence - Like fraud, if undue influence is suspected in probate, the statute of limitation can change. Undue influence means someone has unfairly coerced or pressured the decedent to alter their will or estate plan. If an undue influence claim is proven, it can reset the timer for the statute of limitations.

Decedent Incapacity - If there is a suspicion that the decedent was mentally incapacitated when they were making their will or other estate planning decisions, it can affect the time limit of filing a claim.

Minor or Incapacitated - If the person entitled to file a probate claim is either a minor or temporarily incapacitated, this limitation period may be extended. In the case of a minor, they may be granted time until they've reached the legal age to file a petition. In the case of a physically or mentally incapacitated person, they may be allowed to recover until the time frame for filing their claim applies.

Mistakes, duress, etc. - Other factors such as significant mistakes within the case, or duress (coercion to alter a will) can impact the period for filing. Under these circumstances, it is best to speak with a lawyer versed in probate to determine what you may be entitled to.

If you feel your situation falls into one of the above categories, we urge you to speak with a probate attorney as quickly as possible to figure out your rights, and to start building a plan to attain a fair settlement for yourself and any other affected party.

Why Work With a Probate Attorney?

In a probate lawsuit, knowing and adhering to the appointed statute of limitations should be a priority. Even when exceptions are in place, the time limits are firm and, if missed, can result in the loss of your legal rights.

For this reason, it is crucial to work with a probate lawyer who can provide knowledgeable guidance on the statute of limitations and any exceptions that could be relevant to your case, all while helping you build a strong case to address your probate issue.

Along with quality advice, your attorney can represent you in Florida probate court, a settlement negotiation, or any other legal encounter you have on the way.

Don't take chances with these binding deadlines, or risk losing your legal rights to a probate dispute. Get working with a probate attorney today to learn about, understand, and adhere to your probate lawsuit statute of limitations.

Consult With a Lawyer at Miami Family Law Group

At Miami Family Law Group, our team of skilled attorneys is well-versed in Florida probate and estate law. We've faced all sorts of probate cases in the Miami area, and know how to adapt to our client's needs. Our law firm is committed to protecting the rights of our clients, all while maintaining the law is upheld and obeyed by every involved party.

In any legal case, proactive steps to protect your legal rights are the strongest way to guarantee your best interests are secured.

Speak with one of our lawyers today to make sure your case is on schedule. Call 305-520-7874.

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