Nobody has ever probated their own will, to my knowledge... I think you mean deposit the codicil with the court. I think that this is a safe thing to do, to make sure that it is not lost, intentionally or unintentionally. If you are somehow sure that this codicil will be presented for probate along with your will, then you don't have to deposit it with the court.
Probate filing fees in Palm Beach county are about $450. Most lawyers charge a minimum of $3,000 for probate administration. Was probate already opened and closed? If probate was opened, and the personal representative knew or should have known about your claim, then I am not sure that the statute of limitations started tolling until this new information was known to you. Probate litigation is expensive, which can also work in your favor: if your claim is valid, and you re-open probate, the...
The trust only needs to be the owner of a Florida asset that would have a reason to sue you, or be a Florida trust (which could be an out of state trust that just appointed a Florida trustee so as to avail themselves of Florida law, and become "a Florida trust"). Florida trusts are not necessarily registered. I recommend you take this seriously and address the claim.
Most lawyers would require that the filing fees and publication of notice to creditors be paid by the client (about $500), even if they waited to be paid their fee when the probate is closed. How sure are you that there were sufficient assets to pay the lawyer (first tier of protected creditors), and medical care in the last 60 days before death (second tier of protected creditors), and then general creditors such as you? Bear in mind that once the first 2 tiers of creditors are paid,...
The IRS will go after your sister first, and if they are not compensated they can go after your share of the inheritance. I could be wrong, but if they were not able to get anything from your sister, I am afraid that they could go after the entire amount of unpaid taxes from your half of the inheritance (not just "your" half of the unpaid taxes) - although you would be able to afterwards go against your sister for "her half".
Depending on the amount of the inheritance in question and the...
I think the Lady Bird Deed is a great idea, much better than a full life transfer. It keeps the property in your mom's ownership to avoid any creditor issues, yet provides for the house to receive new tax basis at her death, which should save on capital gains taxes when the house is sold.
To answer the estate planning part of your question, it depends on who the beneficiary of the life insurance policy is. If the beneficiary of the policy is the estate of the decedent, then the policy proceeds become part of the decedent's Probate estate, and are subject to any and all claims against the decedent. If the beneficiary or beneficiaries are natural people, then the policy proceeds are their personal property and are not subject to any claims, even if they are the only heirs.
I think if you negotiate with the hospital they will be glad to lower the price and give your mom a payment plan. If your mom did not have insurance and she was billed "retail" full price, the hospital would probably be delighted to get half, which is very often what the insurance companies pay. Do this through a local lawyer.
Even if the trust doesn't specifically name contingent beneficiaries, in naming the beneficiary it might have added "or descendants or heirs", which is a roundabout way of naming successor beneficiaries. With all due respect for whoever drew up the trust agreement, if it doesn't name contingent beneficiaries I would take it to another lawyer for a fulll-scale review, top to bottom.