Statute of Limitations When Filing a Claim Against An Estate

In Barnett Bank v. Estate of Read, 493 So. 2d 447 (Fla. 1986), a notice of administration was published for the estate, and the bank thereafter filed a statement of claim within three years of the decedent's death. Thus, the factual circumstances there did not implicate subsection (1)(b) of section 733.702, Florida Statutes (1983), which barred claims against an estate unless filed "within 3 years after the decedent's death, if notice of administration has not been published." That subsection of section 733.702 dovetailed with the 1983 version of section 733.710, Florida Statutes, which provided, "Three years after the death of a person, his estate shall not be liable in any cause of action if no letters have been issued in Florida within the 3-year period." Thus, although we held in Barnett Bank that section 733.702 is a statute of limitations, such holding should be correctly confined to the three-month time limitation established in subsection (1)(a) of that statute, not extended to the subsection of the statute we did not address in Barnett Bank. In Spohr v. Berryman, 589 So. 2d 225 (Fla. 1991), court were again called upon to interpret the provisions of section 733.702, Florida Statutes, with the 1985 version of the statute being applicable in that case. After setting forth the relevant terms of section 733.702, we referred to Barnett Bank and stated, "While known as a statute of nonclaim, [section 733.702] is nevertheless a statute of limitations." Spohr, 589 So. 2d at 227; See also Olenek v. Bennett, 537 So. 2d 160, 161 (Fla. 5th DCA 1989) (citing Barnett Bank for the proposition that section 733.702, Florida Statutes (1985), was a statute of limitations). We then proceeded to determine that: (1) the plaintiffs in the case were required to file a statement of claim against the estate concerning a marriage settlement agreement executed by the decedent before his death; (2) the filing of a lawsuit against the personal representative of the estate within the three-month time period set forth in section 733.702 did not constitute compliance with the probate claim requirements of that statute. See Spohr, 589 So. 2d at 227-29.