Ivonne GRISOLIA, as personal representative of the Estate of Favio Jose Grisolia Sanchez (a/k/a Fabrizzio Grisolia), Appellant,
Eric and Carla PFEFFER, Appellees.
Fowler Rodriguez Valdes-Fauli and G. Luis Dominguez, for appellant.
Heller Waldman and Eleanor T. Barnett, Coconut Grove, for appellees.
Before CORTIÑ AS and ROTHENBERG, JJ., and SCHWARTZ, Senior Judge.
CORTIÑ AS, J.
Favio Grisolia Sanchez (" Decedent" ) moved his family to the United States in 2005 following a kidnapping attempt on his son, Fabrizzio Grisolia
(" Son" ), the previous year. Although he was attending school in Venezuela
at the time of the attempted kidnapping, the Son was a United States citizen
with an American
passport. After arriving in the United States, the Decedent, along with the Son and Ivonne Grisolia (" Widow" ), resided temporarily in an apartment in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, owned by the Decedent's mother until 2006 when the Decedent purchased an apartment (" Property" ) in the same building. The Decedent lived in the Property until his death in 2009. The Widow and Son also lived in the Property during that time and continue to reside there.
In 2007, Eric and Carla Pfeffer made a personal loan of $500,000 to the Decedent which was memorialized by a promissory note. Following the filing of the petition for the administration of the Decedent's estate (the " Estate" ), the Pfeffers asserted a claim against the Estate to recover the remaining amounts due and owing on their loan. The Estate objected to the claim and filed a petition for the determination of the homestead status of the Property. Arguing that the Property was protected by Florida's homestead exemption from forced sale, the Estate alleged that it was exempt from creditors such as the Pfeffers. The Pfeffers objected to the petition for the determination of homestead status and, after an evidentiary hearing, the court took the issue under advisement and eventually entered an order denying the petition for homestead exemption. We reverse.
The Florida Constitution provides in pertinent part:
SECTION 4. Homestead; exemptions.—
(a) There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree or execution shall be a lien thereon, except for the payment of taxes and assessments thereon, obligations contracted for the purchase, improvement or repair thereof, or obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the realty, the following property owned by a natural person:
(1) a homestead, if located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land and improvements thereon, which shall not be reduced without the owner's consent by reason of subsequent inclusion in a municipality; or if located within a municipality, to the extent of one-half acre of contiguous land, upon which the exemption shall be limited to the residence of the owner or the owner's family;
(b) These exemptions shall inure to the surviving spouse or ...