In our probate practice, we commonly have clients come in after having received certain probate papers. Usually, this is because there has been a death of a loved one and someone is trying to open a probate. Often among those papers served there is a document entitled “Notice of Administration.” This Notice must contain the following information:
- the name of the decedent
- the file number of the estate
- the designation and address of the court in which the proceedings are pending
- whether the estate is testate or intestate
- if testate, the date of the Will and any Codicils.
- the name and address of the personal representative
- the name and address of the personal representative’s attorney
- notice of certain important deadlines
The questions is: why was this Notice served on them? Does it trigger any deadlines or required action? The reason this document gets served is that it initiates certain deadlines within which the person served must take action in order to protect his or her rights; otherwise, those rights are forever barred.
One of the more important matters triggered by service of the Notice of Administration is the right to contest or object to a Last Will and Testament.
Section 733.212(2)(c) Fla Stat. provides as follows:
…any interested person on whom a copy of the notice of administration is served must file on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on that person any objection that challenges the validity of the will…
This statutory section means that by serving a Notice of Administration, the person served must take action if that person believes that the Will is not valid for whatever reason. Whether the basis to challenge the Will is because the person signing the Will lacked capacity or that the Will was procured through undue influence or duress, the objection challenging the Will must be brought within the three-month period. If not, the right is lost.
This is only one of several deadlines that are triggered by service of a Notice of Administration. If you or someone you know is served with a Notice of Administration, it is advisable to promptly seek counsel from an experienced probate attorney.