Tartaglia v. Hatten (In re Estate of Hatten)
Florida District Court of Appeal
880 So. 2d 1271 (2004)
Louise Hatten, decedent, had seven siblings and an approximately $700,000 estate. Louise’s will left her estate to only four of her siblings, Antoinette Tartaglia, Jeanette Kidd, Anthony Hatten (the beneficiary siblings) (plaintiffs), and Helen Parker. Louise allowed Antoinette to read her executed will. Shortly before her death, Louise told Anthony and Jeanette about the will’s contents and reaffirmed that she intentionally disinherited the other three siblings. After Louise’s death, Antoinette, along with one of Louise’s disinherited siblings, Louis Hatten (defendant), went to Louise’s home. While at Louise’s home, Louis gathered and took all of Louise’s personal papers. Louis did not tell anyone whether the papers he took included Louise’s will. After Louis’s visit, Louise’s will could not be found. Antoinette testified that she believed Louis had found Louise’s will, discovered it disinherited him, and then destroyed it. Louis then petitioned to have Louise’s estate administered as an intestate estate. The beneficiary siblings filed a claim for tortious interference with testamentary expectancy, alleging that Louis maliciously destroyed Louise’s will and that, as a result, each beneficiary sibling would only receive their intestate share, $100,000, rather than the $175,000 share each would have received under the will. Louis moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted it. The beneficiary siblings appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cope, J.)
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