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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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My Aunt Ruth that lived on Florida passed away in Oct. 2012.

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My Aunt Ruth that lived on Florida passed away in Oct. 2012. She had already named her older sister, Katie, as her heir to her estate and issue. The older sister, Katie, passed away in 2002. My aunt Ruth that died in 2012, did not change her will. Now, the daughter, (my cousin) of Katie is laying claim that she is the only decendent of the aunt Ruth that died in 2012, that is not the case. There are 8 more decendents, all that belonged to another sister, Margie. My cousin has hired a lawyer in Florida and has already submitted a photocopy of a last will and testemant into probate court. I want to know, if my sisters and brothers can get our names added to the decendent list when it appears before the judge before he makes a judgement.

Welcome! Thank you for your question.


Is there an original will that names the older sister? Has that will been admitted to probate?


Is the hearing on the validity of the will or the establishment of heirs based on the will?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello John, No original will has been located. A photocopy of a last will and testement done at a notary in 1980 was admitted into probate. My cousin's lawyer was name the representative of my Aunt Ruth's estate. The probate hearing was on the validity of the will. There was never no talk about the establishment of heirs. Stated in the copy of last will and testement I received back in Jan. 2013, in the event Katie predeceased Ruth in death, then distribution was to be made to Katie's issue, which would be my cousin. My sisters and brothers just want to know if there would be any chance for us to be added on as heirs also.


Thank you so much for that additional background. That is very good information. It is also a very good question that you ask. This is a very important hearing for you. If the will is determined to be valid in the probate hearing as a copy then the assets will distribute as set out in the will to only the children and grandchildren (issue) of Katie. If the will is determined to be invalid then the assets will distribute according to intestate succession in Florida. Generally intestate succession will distribute assets to your Aunt's brothers and sisters or her brothers and sisters surviving children and grandchildren if some of her brothers and sisters predeceased her. Here is the intestate succession statute:

As a background on the determination of the validity of the will: Generally an original will is required to be admitted to probate. There are very limited situations where a copy will be admitted. If there is a possibility that your aunt Ruth could have wanted to revoke her will then that is a very good reason the copy should not be admitted to probate. If the original is not found revocation is presumed.

As you see, you have a large interest in this proceeding to determine the validity of the will. By operation of law, if the will is invalid then you and your siblings are heirs. I would highly suggest that you and your siblings hire an estates litigation attorney to argue the legal reasons the will should not be deemed valid.

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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