Orlando, FL asked in Real Estate Law, Civil Litigation and Probate for Florida

Q: My sister sold my father’s property without giving me my share of the sale which is half according to his will.

My sister sold my father’s property for $24,500 without informing me. According to my father’s will (of which my sister has a copy) I’m supposed to get half of the sale. Dad’s attorney P.B. Howell Jr. passed away in 2006. Dad passed away in 2017. Since my father’s passing, I have been trying to sell Dad’s property even posting a “For Sale” sign on the fence. My sister sold the property without informing me. I found out from the neighbors on Christmas Day. I confronted my sister via phone and she hung up the phone. Can I sue to get half of the money owed to me according to my father’s will?

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Your inquiry has a very mysterious set of facts. If a Will gives real property (house, condo, land, etc.) to two individuals to share 50/50, the Will must be probated - that is, a petition to open an estate in the Probate Court must be filed, resulting in a Court Order giving 50/50 ownership, which is then put into a recorded deed. Then, the property legally cannot be sold without both owners listed on the deed signing off on it. No real estate lawyer or title company would allow otherwise. Sometimes, a person who provides for distribution of real property in a Will does the contradictory act of leaving the same property to someone in a deed, and when that happens, the Will provision on that is out the window. You should schedule a consultation with a lawyer to help you figure out what happened and to determine if you can make a claim for money damages. You can also check the online property records in your county for the particular address to see if there was ever a deed from your father to your sister, or a deed to both you and her.

Stephen Arnold Black agrees with this answer

Stephen Arnold Black
Stephen Arnold Black
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Title to property will not pass under a will that deeds it to multiple beneficiaries unless they all sign. The exception is if title to the property at decedent’s death was jointly held with your dad and sister jointly or was held by sister alone. Hire a title insurance company to search the county recorders to see how title was held at Dad’s death.

Charles M. Baron agrees with this answer

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