Norann D. Webb, Charles A. Daniell, Claude O. Daniell, Roberta D. Jernigan, James E. Daniell, Alisa D. Lopez, Rebecca E. Daniell, Beth M. Daniell and Marc M. Daniell, Appellants,
Judith D. Blue, as personal representative of the Estate of Herbert Otis Daniell, Appellee.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Baker County. Stanley H.
Griffis, III, Judge.
William S. Graessle and Jonathan W. Graessle of William S.
Graessle, P.A., Jacksonville, for Appellants.
Nicholas L. Bruce of Collins, Brown, Barkett, Garavaglia
& Lawn, CHTD., Vero Beach, for Appellee.
appeal from various probate orders, we affirm in all respects
and write only to address Appellants' claim that the
trial court erred in finding that the decedent validly
devised his homestead as part of the probate estate.
Specifically, we reject Appellants' assertion that the
decedent was required to specially devise his homestead to
Appellee, a non-heir, where the decedent was survived by
August 21, 2016, the decedent, Herbert Otis Daniell, died
testate with no surviving spouse or children. The
decedent's last will and testament, executed on February
26, 2013, named Judith D. Blue ("Appellee") as the
personal representative and sole beneficiary. The will
included the following provision: "My entire estate is
all property I own at my death that is subject to this will.
I leave my entire estate to Judith D. Blue."
October 4, 2016, Appellee filed a petition for
administration. The petition and an inventory listed two
estate assets: (1) the decedent's non-exempt homestead
(valued at $136, 236.00); and (2) the decedent's truck
(valued at $12, 000.00).
February 9, 2017, relatives of the decedent
("Appellants") filed a Petition to Determine
Homestead Status of Real Property. The petition asserted the
real property was the decedent's homestead and descended
to the decedent's legitimate heirs where there was no
specific intent in the will to pass the homestead property to
Appellee, who was at most a friend rather than legal heir of
the decedent. Appellee objected to the petition on the ground
that the decedent claimed a homestead exemption for ad
valorem taxation purposes, but devised the property without
homestead protection. Appellants responded that the will was
prepared by a non-attorney and did not contain the language
required to include homestead property into the estate.
March 15, 2017, the trial court rendered an order that, among
other things, denied the Petition to Determine Homestead
Status of Real Property. Specifically, the court found that
the decedent was not survived by a spouse or minor child and
that the decedent could freely devise his homestead to
anyone. The court further found that the decedent's will
very clearly stated his intention to leave his entire estate,
including his homestead, to Appellee. This appeal followed.
X, section 4(c) of the Florida Constitution provides in
(c) The homestead shall not be subject to devise if the owner
is survived by spouse or minor child, except the homestead
may be devised to the owner's ...