Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Pompano Beach Estate & Trust Litigation Lawyer
Schedule a Consultation Today! 954-491-7099

Can a Florida Probate Estate Enforce Inheritance Rights Under Non-U.S. Laws?


Because Florida is home to many non-U.S. citizens, and many non-citizens own property in the state, it is not uncommon for foreign laws affecting inheritance rights to intersect with Florida’s probate system. Such cases can raise complex issues of law. And in many cases, Florida courts must look to and enforce the law of a foreign country to resolve the underlying dispute.

Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial in Dispute Involving Turkish Estate

Consider this recent decision from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal, Tatlici v. Tatlici. This case involves the Florida estate of a deceased businessman (the decedent) from Turkey. The decedent’s older son and younger son were the litigants. Each son was born to a different mother.

Under Turkish law, when the decedent died each son had a vested share of the estate. The older son was born to the decedent’s former wife. She claimed the decedent owed her unpaid alimony and other assets arising from their divorce 30 years earlier. The former wife assigned those claims to the older son.

The decedent owned property in Florida. The older son petitioned and was named administrator ad litem of his father’s Florida estate for the purpose of pursuing his mother’s claim against the decedent’s widow and the younger son. The elder son alleged that his father transferred certain properties in Florida to the widow and the younger son in violation of the terms of the divorce. In part, the older son’s claims arose under a Turkish law known as “Tenkiz Davasi.”

The Florida trial court subsequently entered a default on the issue of liability against the younger son and the widow after they violated several court orders related to the litigation. The court then held a jury trial to determine damages. The judge dismissed the claim based on Tenkiz Davasi, however, holding that it did not state a valid civil cause of action under Florida law. On the remaining count alleging fraudulent transfer of the properties, the jury ruled for the older son and awarded over $600,000 in damages.

On appeal, the Fourth District said the trial court erred in dismissing the Tenkiz Davasi claim. In this context, Tenkiz Davasi was essentially a claim for “contribution.” Under the Turkish law, when one spouse dies, their shared property is liquidated. The surviving spouse and the deceased spouse’s estate then each take the value of the property associated with each spouse’s respective contributions to the acquisition and maintenance of that property. In effect, the older son’s Tenkiz Davasi claim was for the money that his father contributed to the maintenance of the Florida property, not a claim against the property itself. As the administrator ad litem of the Florida estate, the Fourth District held the elder son had the right to pursue that claim in a Florida court, even though it was based on Turkish law. The appeals court therefore ordered a new trial on damages.

Contact Florida Estate Litigation Attorney Mark R. Manceri Today

If you are involved in any legal dispute involving the administration of a Florida probate estate, it is important to seek out qualified legal advice and representation. If you need to speak with an experienced Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation lawyer, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2019 - 2024 Mark R. Manceri, P.A. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.