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LegalGems
LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience:  Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
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In Oct.2011 my father filed a claim with his insurance co..citizens

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In Oct.2011 my father filed a claim with his insurance co..citizens insurance..because he had a sinkhole. He had coverage as part of his package. During this time, it took almost a year to get an adjuster out to see the house, in the mean time the property deteriorated. The house was finally reinforced and passed to be fixed. My husband did all the interior work, the replacing of bathroom tiles, floors, sheetrock, painting, furniture removal so the work could be done ..I think you get the picture. To make a long story short, the insurance co . was billed for the repairs, during which time my father passed away.I already was the owner of the house when he passed, but the insurance was in his name because when he got it only he lived in it. We sent all the required paperwork to citizens,got signed verification that they received everything.Now here is where it starts to get good. The agent assigned kept saying she didn't have many of the papers and we sent them again to her. Weeks went by and she would call and ask for more papers and receipts. Again we would send things asked for. She did this over and over again saying she either didn't get them or they got lost...Now we aren't talking about a large sum of money here. My father only had $10,000.00 in coverage.They were only billed for less then 9,000.All this time they were aware that there was no estate for my father. This agent was compleatly incompetent handeling this case. She finally agreed to pay for the work, minus the deductable, then turned around and said she needed more paper work and a check was not coming.We told her enough was enough and we were getting a lawyer. With that a check was finally issued..19 months after the filing and nearly a year after my fathers death. The company issued the check to us as"The Estate of..."Now here it is almost a year after he is gone, there are no bank accounts in his name or for an estate because there wasn't any. Naturally my bank will not take the check. I called the insurance company about this matter and they told me that since I was not on the policy it had to be written to him and since he is dead it goes to the estate. So in my hands is a check for the work and money WE invested in this house..which by the way was sold in Dec. of 2012, that is uncashable. We are at our wits end with this whole thing because we are stuck between a rock and a hard place and don't have any idea what to do. Any suggestions?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.

LegalGems :

Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction!

LegalGems :

One moment please as I review your question.

LegalGems :

Give me a few minutes please to research this. I have not encountered a situation like this before. I can only imagine your frustration. Just a few moments...

LegalGems :

Your husband's company may first want to send an invoice on his letterhead to see if the insurance company will cut a check directly to him, as contractor. It is within their discretion to do so; generally they name the bank holding the mortgage if applicable, the contractor and the homeowner.

LegalGems :

However, it sounds as if the insurance company is not willing to work with you. In which case, since there was no probate filed, probate will need to be filed in order to determine who has legal authority to stand in for your dad. Generally, this is the executor (person named in the will). If no one is named, then the court will appoint an administrator. Under FL statute 735.201 there is a simplified procedure for small estates (less than $75K). This procedure is much simpler than a full probate. However, you do need to file the petition for a small estate with the probate clerk. The probate clerk will have this form. It is called a small estate affidavit. Please see http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/735.201.

LegalGems :

According to FLS 735.206, the court has the authority to order immediate distribution of the asset.

LegalGems :

I am looking into another alternative to see if it is available. One moment please.

LegalGems :

Unfortunately, there is a simpler process but it is not applicable as it is more for situations where the sole heir is requesting reimbursement for medical/funeral expenses incurred during the last 60 days of his life.

LegalGems :

Here is an affidavit that will need to be filed with the summary adjudication: http://www.clerk.citrus.fl.us/cms/uploads/courts/Affidavit%20of%20Heirs%20Probate%20022008.pdf. This may not be your county, but it gives you an idea of the type of form you will need.

Customer:

O-kay...As far as sending in a bill to them, we have done so at least 3 times. We have even spoken to the agent about the fact he hasn't gotten paid yet and she had the bill..all the bills, for material, time etc as well...and your right...they are compleatly unwilling to work with us . We have been far more then compliant and patient with their nonsense.

Customer:

Now I'm really not dumb, but please tell me what you mean by summary adjudication.

Customer:

I'm really not dumb, but please tell me what summery adjudication means.

Customer:

Sorry it must have got lost the first time..

LegalGems :

No; I know it is very confusing because they have fancy names for simple proceedings. It's an expedited form of probate - so you don't have to go through the statutory waiting period, get Letters issued, etc. It's more of a cursory proceeding. You file the petition for summary adjudication, pay the filing fee, and the court will, absent contest, generally "rubberstamp" the recommended distribution. It's still a hassle, and if you could persuade a manager at the insurance co., this would be the easiest resolution. Let me check on one other thing.

LegalGems :

Here is a checklist of what you would need to do for Summ. Adjud. And I know it looks lengthy but this is the simplified approach. Still checking on something else...

LegalGems :

This agency : http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/ regulates the insurance industry. This is the link to the complaint page. If it appears that the company is stonewalling you, they may take an interest; and this may be incentive for the company to cut you a check (not you as heir; but your husband's company as contractor).

LegalGems :

http://www.jud3.flcourts.org/Probate/Disposition%20of%20Personal%20Property%20Without%20Administration.pdf. This is by far the most simple probate process, but it would require you to show that you spent the amount of the check on funeral/last illness expenses.

Customer:

I sure do hope so. This whole thing has been nothing but a hassel from day one. My poor father is turning over in his urn..he was cremated..with all this. I wonder if they would have given us all this trouble had he not passed?

LegalGems :

I am thinking of another approach; just a sec. (And yes, they probably would have. Insurance companies are notorious for this type of delay).

LegalGems :

This is a reach; but the clerk at the court will help you. If you fill out the form I linked to at 10:55, and then put your husband's company down on page 3 as a creditor, it is possible that the court will let you go with this method. This is by far the simplest. Technically, they may kick it out but since a creditor is not claiming exempt property it MAY work.

LegalGems :

Here is a state bar advisory on this: http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/8c9f13012b96736985256aa900624829/7cf83a29fd1c06c185257749007543b7!OpenDocument.

Customer:

thats the www.jud3flcourts.org address your talking about right?

LegalGems :

yes; and this is what is required per their website:



  • Original Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if one exists

  • Death Certificate

  • Copy of the statement from funeral home showing by whom the bill was paid

  • Signed and notarized consents from all heirs, if any


The filing fee is due at the time the Petition is filed. There is also a charge for one certified copy of the Order for Payment of Funds which is generally required by the institution holding the assets. If the judge approves the petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the probate court which directs that the assets in question be distributed as outlined in the petition.

Customer:

all the items are easy to gather..and I paid for the funeral on a credit card...paper trail..both my brothers know my husband did all the work so there is no problem there, but I think I only have a copy of the will...not an original.

LegalGems :

If there is no will (original), the property would go intestate. This means to the surviving children in equal shares; but if your husband is the creditor, there will be no money left to distribute to heirs.

Customer:

I see...Just want your thoughts on this...since Citizens is a state owned insurance company, do you think it wise I write my congressmen about their behavior in this matter?

LegalGems :

It would be more effective to contact the agency that is legally responsible for overseeing insurance industries in FLA. I linked it above - it was quite a bit up there; one moment so I can copy and paste it here for your reference.

Customer:

great...they really are out of hand and need to be "spanked and put in time out"!

LegalGems :

Yes, especially given the undue delay. It makes one wonder if other heirs ended up just walking away, simply because they can't deal with the hassle while dealing with the loss of a family member...

Customer:

It was twice as hard for us here...my Mom passed 3 weeks before my Dad so I had alot on my plate.

LegalGems :

OH, so sorry to hear that. That must have been incredibly difficult.

Customer:

It was...but they both lived long and beautiful lives and I have been most blessed to have had them as long as I did. He was 1 week away from 93 and Mom had just turned 93 the week befor she passed.

LegalGems :

That is a long life...but too short for those left behind!

Customer:

Yes..especially since I am the next generation and not a spring chicken anymore...I'm really a summer hen..hoho.

LegalGems :

You're a senior? What county - I may be able to find free legal resources for you.

Customer:

Yes...in fact I will be filing for Social security in June...my husband is already on S.S and disability.

Customer:

We are in Pasco County.

LegalGems :

Just a second please

LegalGems :

For some reason the site won't download - but it is www.floridalawhelp.org - they have a listing of pro bono organizations and the qualifications necessary. You may want to check into that later, once their site is functioning (unless it's my connection).

Customer:

Wow...and a bonus as well as advise..you have been great..no better then great. There is light at the end of the tunnel because of you..Thank you so very much for taking the time to help me out with this. It doesn't seem so out of hand now.

LegalGems :

So glad to hear. I hope all this works out as smoothly as possible. Take care, and enjoy your day!

Customer:

Again thank you and I will let you know how things turn out. I have resorces to work with..something I didn't have an hour ago and I have you to thank for that. You also have a great day!

LegalGems :

Perfect. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3731
Experience: Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
LegalGems and other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to be sure and thank you for using JA/Pearl.

I hope you found the information I provided useful.
In particular, I hope you were able to find a pro bono organization that can assist you further on this (always a plus!). And, I would like to thank you for your very considerate compliments - that's part of the reason I love JA/Pearl!

If you would like to request me for your future legal inquires, please put TO LEGAL GEMS in front of the question, and I will do my best!
Take care.

LEGALGEMS
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Again I want to thank you for all your help..the sites listed, I found invaluable. The light at the end is getting closer. Have a great week-end .
Dona
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.
Thank you- you are very generous with your kind words. I'm so glad I was able to assist you with this - I know how difficult this process can be; especially when it all seems like a different language.

Take care!

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