Haimo Law represented a personal representative in an estate with several out-of-state beneficiaries, all of whom were over the age of 70 when the Florida estate administration (probate) began. There were several assets that needed to be transferred from the deceased’s name to the deceased’s legal estate (i.e. marshaled), including the sale of co-op shares in a condominium. There was also a creditor whose claim could not be resolved in the estate administration and resorted to filing a lawsuit against the estate (termed an independent action). This resulted in a separate legal proceeding for the personal representative and our firm to manage. These 2 aspects of the Florida estate administration caused significant expense and delays to the process. Unfortunately, 2 of the beneficiaries passed away during the lengthy Florida estate administration. What happens when a beneficiary passes away before they receive their distribution?
In our case, the 2 beneficiaries that passed away lived in other states. Since they had not received their distribution yet, an estate administration matter had to be opened in their state of residency. We were able to assist local counsel for each estate to provide the necessary documentation. As mentioned above, this case involved the sale of co-op shares in a condo. So not only did an estate administration have to be opened in the state of residency, but a satellite estate administration (called an ancillary estate administrations) had to be opened in Florida as well. This was necessary in order to transfer and sell the co-op. This was quite a feat, but through open communication with the personal representative for our primary estate administration, the personal representatives of the deceased beneficiaries’ estates (called executors), and all the parties involved in the sale, we were able to successfully close on the co-op after many months. If a beneficiary passes away during an estate administration, an estate will likely need to be opened for that beneficiary to take over as the beneficiary.
We successfully assisted the personal representative for our primary Florida estate administration, and we successfully assisted the executors in the 2 ancillary estate administrations to close on the co-op and distribute the assets. Each of the deceased beneficiaries’ estates received the distribution that was meant for the beneficiary and was further distributed according to that beneficiary’s will. Although it caused delays, communication was key to our success in the case.
If a beneficiary passes away during an estate administration, their estate will take over as the beneficiary. It will cause delays, but an experienced estate administration attorney will be able to provide the proper guidance to the personal representative.