From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

McCullough v. Forbes

Supreme Court of Florida, en Banc
Sep 26, 1950
47 So. 2d 780 (Fla. 1950)


August 1, 1950. Rehearing Denied September 26, 1950.

Appeal from the Circuit Court, Duval County, Miles W. Lewis, J.

Bedell Bedell, Jacksonville, for appellant.

Walter C. Shea, Jacksonville, for appellee.

The decree appealed from is without error and is affirmed.

ADAMS, C.J., and THOMAS, SEBRING and HOBSON, JJ., concur.


Estelle Fridenberg and husband, now deceased, in 1922 acquired by purchase Lots 5 and 6, Block 42, Atlantic Beach, Duval County, Florida. Some few months thereafter they constructed a dwelling on the lots, sold their home in the City of Jacksonville and in 1925 moved into the Atlantic Beach property, and made it their permanent home. They constructed at the rear of the above property during the year 1925 a garage apartment but it was not rented until after the death of the husband in 1932. The Tax Assessor of Duval County did not dispute the homestead character of the described property until the widow stored the family furniture and some of her furnishings in the attic of the home and, in May or June, 1948, rented the home to a tenant on a month to month basis. The property was in possession of a tenant on January 1, 1949, and the Tax Assessor denied the owner the homestead exemption because she did not reside on the property as a home.

In 1948 the widow was above eighty years of age, infirm, and unable to care for herself. She fell in her bathroom, broke her wrist and fractured other bones. Careful nursing and considerable time were required to overcome these injuries. For reasons satisfactory to her she obtained a room, first at the Windsor and later at the Seminole Hotel, in the City of Jacksonville. It was necessary for the widow, after the fall, to be under the full time care of a practical nurse. It was impossible to obtain suitable nursing care at her home in Atlantic Beach and was occupying a room in the home of a Mrs. Breslin at 147 West 20th Street, Jacksonville, on July 26, 1949, when she filed her bill of complaint against the Tax Assessor of Duval County, Florida, in which she prayed for a final decree exempting her home at Atlantic Beach from taxation.

The Tax Assessor of Duval County denied the appellant benefits of a homestead exemption on January 1, 1949, because: (1) on said date she did not occupy the property; (2) she rented the property on a month to month basis; (3) the appellant did not reside on the property as required by Section 192.14, F.S.A. The Chancellor by appropriate decree sustained the conclusion of the Tax Assessor and the plaintiff appealed. It is true, as reflected by the record, that the appellant was not occupying and residing upon the property on January 1, 1949, but her furniture was stored in the attic of the home; she was approximately 86 years of age; she claimed the property as a home and had not abandoned it; it was necessary to live elsewhere in order to obtain nursing so as to regain her health; it was her intention to resume occupancy of her home at Atlantic Beach at the earliest moment that her physical condition would permit.

On many occasions we have held that our statutory and organic provisions applicable to homestead exemptions should be liberally construed by the courts in the interest of the family home. Our people in adopting this provision of our Constitution intended that it should shelter the family in times of disaster and misfortune. The fact that the owner rents the home for a temporary period while she is away and being nursed so as to regain her normal health, not being able to obtain suitable treatment in the home at Atlantic Beach, is not a sufficient reason to deprive her of rights guaranteed by our fundamental law. It is not disputed here that she intends to return and reside in her home at the earliest moment when physically able so to do. See City of Jacksonville v. Bailey, 159 Fla. 11, 30 So.2d 529; Hillsborough Investment Co. v. Wilcox, 152 Fla. 889, 13 So.2d 448; Collins v. Collins, 150 Fla. 374, 7 So.2d 443.

TERRELL and ROBERTS, JJ., concur.

Summaries of

McCullough v. Forbes

Supreme Court of Florida, en Banc
Sep 26, 1950
47 So. 2d 780 (Fla. 1950)
Case details for

McCullough v. Forbes

Case Details


Court:Supreme Court of Florida, en Banc

Date published: Sep 26, 1950


47 So. 2d 780 (Fla. 1950)

Citing Cases

L'Engle v. Forbes

Two questions are presented here: (1) Did the home retain its character as homestead property for tax…

Donoghue v. Beeler

For example, the case of Leslie v. West, Fla., 38 So.2d 821, affirmed without opinion except for a dissent,…