Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Many states in the US are community property states but Florida is not one of them. But community property rights acquired in community property states can be enforced in Florida. In a recent case, Johnson v Townsend, the court determined that community property rights are a claim that must be pursued, not an automatic right in Florida.
The case involved a married couple that moved from Texas (a community property state) to Florida. The husband died and was survived by his wife and his children from a prior marriage. The husband's will was admitted to probate and the wife was appointed personal representative, in which she published a notice to all creditors against the estate that same month. 2 and a half years later, she filed a claim under the Florida Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act. The wife sought to confirm and effectuate her vested 50% community property interest in an investment asset acquired and titled in the decedent’s name while the decedent and the wife were domiciled in Texas. The children objected.
The Act does not contain a deadline to file a community property claim against an estate, but creditor claims do have deadline depending on the type. The wife argued the deadlines did not apply because as community property, the assets were never the husband's, while the children argue the deadlines did apply as the assets were within the decedent's estate. The court agreed with the children and ordered that the deadline for community property claims were 3 months after the personal representative (the wife) published the notice to creditors.
See Community Property Rights In Florida: File a Creditor Claim, Probate Stars, December 4, 2019.