Tortious Interference With An Expectancy
Tortious interference with an expectancy is a wrongful act (tort) that causes harm to another person — in this case, economic harm. Tortious interference was first recognized in Florida in 1966 in the case of Allen v. Leybourne, 190 So.2d 825 (Fla. 3d DCA 1966). It is a relatively new law, enacted to protect the intent of the person making a will, as opposed to protecting the interests of a beneficiary receiving property under the will. Since a person making a will has the right to dispose of property freely and without improper interference, this law protects the rights of the person who signed the will, even though he or she has passed away.
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 774B (1979) “One who by fraud, duress or other tortious means intentionally prevents another from receiving from a third person an inheritance or gift that he/she would otherwise have received is subject to liability to the other for loss of the inheritance or gift.” To prevail in a lawsuit involving intentional interference with the expectancy of an inheritance, the person(s) filing suit must prove:
- The existence of an expectancy
- The intentional interference with the expectancy through tortious (wrongful) conduct
The party suing must also prove a legally protected interest, or expectancy — meaning that the decedent intended to leave a portion of his or her estate to the party and but for the wrongful conduct, the party would have received the amount intended by the decedent.
When that third party intentionally interferes with the inheritance of another and the wishes of the deceased are thwarted, the tortious interference becomes an actionable claim. The wrongful conduct or interference includes undue influence, fraud or duress, and a judgment for damages can be entered against the wrongdoer. You need an attorney who fully understands what claims can be filed on your behalf. At VanNess & VanNess, P.A., our legal team has the knowledge and resources to fight for you in cases involving interference with inheritance.
A party cannot sue for tortious interference with an expectancy prior to the testator’s death. Upon the death of the testator, however, a party can challenge a will or trust as the product of undue influence or fraud and can seek additional remedies through a tortious interference with an expectancy lawsuit if other accounts with beneficiary, payable on death, transfer on death designations were interfered with prior to death.
Consult Our Resourceful And Effective Attorneys
The lawyers of VanNess & VanNess, P.A., handle these types of cases every day and have the knowledge and resources to fight for you. This area of law is intricate and complex, and you must entrust your case to attorneys who possess vast, relevant experience and exhibit an unparalleled focus on achieving excellent results for their clients.
To schedule a consultation, please call us at 866-697-6221 toll free or complete our confidential online contact form. Based in central Florida, our probate and trust litigation attorneys represent clients statewide.