Attorney-at-Law

HOW TO AVOID PROBATE!

In Uncategorized on 10/18/2021 at 18:59

Judge Cary Douglas (“CDP”) Pugh has an update for those who missed Norm Dacey’s 1965 best-seller, including (without limitation) a checklist for a petitioners’ attorney, the heirs of whose client want to avoid probate.

The “10 or so” heirs-at-law of the late Roberto Echaverry, Docket No. 19400-18, filed 10/18/21*, are scattered around FL and Nicaragua.  When the late Roberto became the late Roberto, his petition was already in the Glasshouse hopper, and his trusty attorney (whom I’ll call Zim) was on the case. It seems the case was on the settlement road while Roberto lived, but COVID intervened and stalled matters until the death of the late Roberto.

Judge CDP takes up the tale.

“A third Motion for Continuance, … which we granted… stated that petitioner died on August 9, 2020. It further stated that there were delays in probating petitioner’s estate due to the pandemic. [Thereafter]… the parties filed a Joint Status Report, advising that petitioner’s heirs were still in the process of probating petitioner’s estate.” Order, at p. 1.

IRS’ counsel, losing patience with FL’s legendary lassitude when it comes to estate administration (one popular legend says FL probate practice was Norm Dacey’s inspiration, although another says CA), moves to toss for want of prosecution, “…advising that respondent’s counsel was informed by petitioner’s counsel that one of petitioner’s sons reported that petitioner’s heirs would not be probating petitioner’s estate; petitioner has several children that live out of the county; and petitioner’s counsel would be filing a motion to withdraw from the case. The motion further stated that respondent received an email from petitioner’s counsel’s office, attaching a copy of petitioner’s death certificate and a list of, but no contact information for, petitioner’s heirs. Neither of those documents were attached to respondent’s Motion to Dismiss.” Order, at p. 2.

And Zim now moves to withdraw as counsel, but doesn’t provide a copy of the late Roberto’s death certificate, nor do more than list the names (but not the contact info) of the late Roberto’s heirs-at-law.

One must read between the lines to sense Judge CDP’s opinion of the lackadaisical practice the parties here evinced.

“If there has been no administration of a deceased petitioner’s estate, this Court may formulate an appropriate procedure to bring such a case to a close, including affording a decedent’s heirs at law an opportunity to take whatever action may be necessary to protect their interests. Neither party has yet provided the information the Court requires to move forward with this case.” Order, at p. 2. (Citation omitted).

So here’s the to-do list, and practitioners might want to keep a copy handy, in the sad case that your client cops it.

Get the caption amended; provide a list of names, addresses, and telephone or other contact info for all the offspring and other heirs-at-law; provide death certificate or other proof of death; make sure everyone gets the Notice of Remote Proceedings from the Clerk; and be ready to argue the motion to toss.

*Roberto Echaverry 19400-18 10 18 21

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