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Real Estate Disputes

Probate Litigation Attorneys Serving Ocala

After a Florida property owner passes away, their death triggers the legal process of probate. Through probate, a decedent’s assets are distributed to the estate’s heirs through a court-supervised process. During probate, which can be straightforward or drawn-out and complicated, the decedent’s debts and taxes are paid. While a simple estate might pass through probate relatively quickly, an estate that is complicated and involves real estate disputes may go through probate more slowly. If you are concerned about real estate disputes in the probate process, an Ocala probate litigation lawyer at the Dean Law Firm can advise you regarding your legal options.

Real Estate and Probate

In most probate cases in Florida, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate should be represented by an attorney. Likewise if you are filing a probate dispute, you should generally retain an attorney. Those who inherit property that was solely titled in a decedent’s name will need to allow the property to pass through probate. If it was a decedent’s primary residence, it will be considered a homestead.

Homestead property can’t be devised under a will where the decedent was survived by her spouse or minor child. Where a homestead is legitimately devised, or passes through intestacy, it will not be subject to creditors’ claims. Even when real property passes free of any claims, it can take months to get clear title.

Real Estate Disputes

Often contested probate proceedings involve conflicts regarding real property. This could arise in connection with a will contest. When somebody gets a Notice of Administration, he or she may wish to bring a will contest related to the last will and testament. There are different circumstances under which a will contest may be brought, including lack of mental capacity, duress, undue influence, or failure to meet the formalities of creating a valid will. For example, if your father with dementia owned a house and in his last will disinherited you to bequeath the house to his close friend, you may be able to bring a will contest in connection with the house based on lack of mental capacity and undue influence.

Probate litigation may involve disputes about how the property is held and not disputes about a testamentary instrument. For example, if real property is titled in the decedent’s name, somebody else might claim it is actually his or her property. Sometimes a conflict arises in connection with homestead property, which is not an asset subject to probate. In that case, the issues must be litigated separately in a different lawsuit, rather than in connection with probate.

A dispute could arise in connection with who should get real estate that may or may not have been owned by the decedent. Generally if the decedent held title but someone else claims a colorable entitlement to the same property, the question of who should temporarily get the property pending final resolution of the other’s claim of entitlement is a factual issue that has to be resolved through a prompt preliminary evidentiary hearing.

Transfers That Avoid Probate

Certain transfers of real estate avoid probate. Sometimes, for example, real estate is purchased and titled as a tenancy by the entirety; this means a husband and wife bought real property together and asked it be titled as a tenancy by the entirety, and when one spouse dies, the other immediately inherits the real property. Similarly, if two people buy property and title it as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, when one dies, the other will immediately take title without probate. The transfer is immediate. There are also Lady Bird deeds that provide for transfer without probate, so long as a named beneficiary files a death certificate. Real estate held in trusts can also be transferred without probate.

Consult a Dedicated Ocala Lawyer Regarding Your Probate Dispute

If you are concerned about a real estate dispute related to probate in Ocala, it is advisable to hire a tenacious attorney who understands the intricacies of Florida real estate law and probate litigation. Michael E. Dean and Timothy S. Dean are the lawyers of the Dean Law Firm. We have decades of combined experience. Call (352) 387-8700 to set up a free consultation with our attorneys or contact us online.