You’ll often hear lawyers speak in terms of suing “the estate,” or transferring property to “the estate,” or collecting a bill that’s payable by “the estate.” This kind of loose talk usually doesn’t matter, but sometimes it does. To be clear, under Florida law there’s no such thing as a separate legal entity known as an “estate.”
Garcia v. Diamond Marine Ltd., 2013 WL 6086916 (S.D.Fla. November 19, 2013):
If you want to sue, get paid from, or transfer property to, an “estate,” all of that needs to happen via the estate’s personal representative. Skip that step and you could end up getting your lawsuit dismissed, which is exactly what happened in the linked-to case above for the following reason:
Under Florida law, a decedent’s estate is not a proper party, and the personal representative of the estate must be served in her representative capacity to subject the estate to the jurisdiction of the court. See Mclendon v. Smith, 589 So.2d 410, 411 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991); See generally Fla. Prob. R. 5.110(f)(1); but see Ferguson v. Estate of Campana, 47 so.3d 838, 842 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010) (permitting case to continue against the estate of a decedent).