Tortious Interference with Expectancy of Inheritance is a relatively new cause of action in Florida, but it is a useful remedy for a beneficiary who has been wrongfully deprived of his or her inheritance by the tortious acts of a third party. In order to establish a case for Tortious Interference with Expectancy of Inheritance, the potential beneficiary must demonstrate 1) that he or she had an expectancy to inherit from the Estate; 2) that a third party intentionally interfered with that expectancy through tortious conduct; 3) that the third party’s wrongful interference caused the beneficiary to lose out on his or her inheritance; and 4) the third party’s wrongful interference caused the beneficiary to suffer damages.
This cause of action is unusual because it is designed to protect the testator’s right to dispose of his property freely and without improper interference. The fraud, duress, undue influence, or other tortious conduct required for this cause of action is therefore directed at the testator, not the beneficiary.
In order to bring a cause of action for Tortious Interference with Expectancy of Inheritance, a beneficiary must first exhaust his or her remedies at probate. For example, if challenging the will by means of a will contest will accomplish the testator’s true intent, then that must be attempted before filing an action for Tortious Interference. If we cannot accomplish the true testamentary intentions of the testator at probate, a claim for Tortious Interference with Expectancy is a great way to prevent an undeserving third party from receiving estate assets contrary to the testator’s intent.
Finally, the Florida Courts will not recognize a cause of action for Tortious Interference before the death of the testator. The cause of action accrues upon the death of the testator. This makes the task of proving the case a bit more complicated, as the testator is no longer around to testify as to his testamentary intent. This is why it is important to retain a competent and experienced probate and estate attorney to represent your interests.