Could he, as a third party, delay the proceedings with a caveat or lawsuit if he believed he was entitled to compensation from the deceased? 6 Answers as of January 24, 2013

I'm writing a novel and attempting to cause some confusion regarding my main character innocence. Because of his connection (friend and employee) to a wealthy woman, (now deceased) he is suspect of stealing some of her property (jewelry) and delaying the proceedings of the will. Of course, he is innocent and ultimately wins the heart of the deceased woman's niece. How do I legitimately cast suspicion on him from the woman’s niece perspective? Someone else (deceased woman's estranged stepson) is the one causing the problems with the will, but the reader doesn't learn that until the final chapter. The main character is not a beneficiary, so cannot contest the will (therefore no one would suspect him of it). Answer does NOT have to be overly specific, as it could vary between geographical areas, just logical and believable to my readers. THANK YOU!

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
Well, he could contest the will, if he asserted there was a later will, maybe one in which the wealthy woman leaves a gift to the charity of his choice. It's hard to imagine any other way a person not a devisee in the will could cause any delay. How about making your main character the person the wealthy woman named as her personal representative, so he is probating the will? Instantly, everybody hates him at that point.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 1/24/2013
Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
In Michigan, there is no Caveat procedure. If he was due something from the decedent, he could file a claim against the estate. The Personal Representative would then need to either accept or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, the claimant would need to file a lawsuit against the estate within 63 days or the claim would be barred. He would not be considered an interested person of the estate and he would not have the right to notice, and he would otherwise not have standing. His sole remedy under Michigan law would be to file a claim. Good luck with the book!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/24/2013
Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
In Florida your character would be considered a creditor and he can place a claim against the estate to collect his compensation. This is par for the course within probate proceedings (nothing really unusual about that that can cast suspicion). If the personal representative rejects the claim, then he probably can legitimately sue the estate for what he feels he's owed. This of course would delay the distribution of the assets of the estate. To cast suspicion on him is hard because I would need more info; besides being the woman's niece, what role does she have in proceeding with the probate. Is she the personal representative. If so she would have had to present to the court an inventory of the estate. Or if a beneficiary of the estate she should have received an inventory of the estate. If the jewelry were to become missing after the inventory was given to the court that could surely cast suspicion. Sorry I was of so little help.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 1/24/2013
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
Probate proceedings are a fairly "public" business - not something done below the water line. I can think of a number of ways for an unscrupulous person to interfere with a probate proceeding (and ultimate face the sanctions that go with that kind of unscrupulous activity) but I have trouble coming up with a practical scenario that would delay or complicate a probate proceeding surreptitiously. Good luck with your book.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 1/24/2013
The Ticktin Law Group
The Ticktin Law Group | Peter Ticktin
This is certainly an interesting question. The first question would be where had the deceased lived If she was in Florida then what I suggest will apply, if she was from another state, or her property was in another state I would suggest following those rules. In Florida once a person has passed the executor must publish a notice to creditors so that a creditor may have a right to claim against the Estate. The creditor only has 30 days to submit a claim, or the claim will be deemed waived. Possibly your character could submit a a claim against the estate for money owed. Then to gum up the system, he doesn't have a contract or bill to prove the allegation, but simply a letter written by him (or her) stating he is owed the money. If the claim is disputed then the Court's will need a hearing on the issue, which delays estate proceedings. Good luck, keep us posted.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 1/24/2013
Click to View More Answers: