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The Disinherited Grandson Who Contested His Grandfather’s Will at the Last Minute


When a deceased person’s estate goes to probate, creditors and other interested persons have an opportunity to file a claim (known as a caveat), in which they notify the probate court of their existence and their claim to money belonging to the estate.  An “interested person” is anyone who stands to inherit from the estate, whether or not they are mentioned in the will, and even if the deceased person did not have a will.  Upon receiving the caveat, the personal representative of the estate then formally serves the interesting person with a notice inviting them to submit their affirmative defenses (the reasons they believe they are entitled to the money) to the court.  Officially, the interested person has 20 days to submit the affirmative defenses, counting from the date they received the notice, but this is not a statute of limitations.  The probate courts have some discretion to consider defenses that were submitted late.  If this sounds complicated, it is.  The best thing to do is to have a Florida probate lawyer help you in your role as personal representative of an estate or as an interested person.

Details of the Rocca v. Boyansky Case

In the will that Sidney Boyansky signed in 2004, he left substantial assets to his grandson Matthew Rocca.  In 2007, he drafted and signed a new version of the will, this time disinheriting Matthew and making his wife Irene Boyansky the personal representative of his estate.  Sidney Boyansky died in April 2009, and on June 10 of that year, Irene opened the estate for probate and submitted the will to the probate court.  On August 21, Matthew submitted a caveat in which he alleged that the 2007 version of the will was not valid because of undue influence.  The court served him with formal notice of the proceeding on August 31, and the deadline for him to respond with his arguments as to why the will was invalid was September 20.

Matthew submitted his response on September 21, a day after the deadline.  The court scheduled a hearing for December 22 and asked Matthew to submit his affirmative defenses, about which the court would rule at the hearing, by December 15.  In his affirmative defenses, Matthew argued that in 2007, when the will admitted to probate was signed, his grandfather was too ill to understand what he was signing.  He submitted his defenses to the court on December 22, 30 minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin.  The trial court went forward with probate as if no objection had been filed.  Matthew appealed, and the appeals judge expressed annoyance at Matthew’s chronic lateness, but the court accepted Matthew’s appeal and overturned the trial court’s ruling.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

If a family member has disinherited you, the time to file a caveat is as soon as you find out about the new will.  Even better, express your concerns about your elderly relatives’ estate plans while they are still alive.  Contact Clearwater probate lawyer William Rambaum to discuss your questions.




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