Subsequent Administration of an Estate was Warranted Under Florida Probate Rule 5.460 to Determine a Son’s Interest in Mother’s Homestead After it was Sold

Posted on December 8, 2015

In Mathis v. Estate of Mathis, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 16601 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), Charlyn Mathis (“Decedent”) died with a will which provided that her homestead property should go to her daughter, Kathleen (“Appellee”) and upon the daughter’s death, to her son, Johnnie (“Appellant”). However, the will also provided that if the property was sold, the proceeds from the sale would go to all of her children and grandchildren, in predetermined percentages. After Decedent passed, Appellant continued to live at the subject property. Both Appellee and Appellant were living with Decedent when she passed, in 2003, along with other adult children.

In 2012, Appellant was still living in the home and Appellee filed a petition for administration and an emergency petition to appoint a curator and to stay the scheduled tax deed sale of the property. The trial court granted Appellee’s petition. The next month, Appellant paid over $14,000 in outstanding property taxes to avoid the tax deed sale. The curator then filed a petition to determine the homestead status of the property and the trial court admitted the will to probate. The court entered an order finding that Decedent’s property was the Decedent’s homestead at the time of her death and after the order was recorded in the public records, the curator filed a petition for discharge asserting that the estate had been fully administered. The trial court discharged the curator, and the probate court closed the estate.

The following month, in December 2013, Appellee sold the property to a third party. Appellant learned of the sale when the third party filed an eviction action against him. In response, Appellant filed a petition seeking the subsequent administration of Decedent’s estate or in the alternative to reopen the estate, alleging that Appellee had sold the property, but was refusing to give him his percentage of the proceeds, as required by Decedent’s will, and to reimburse him for the $14,000 he paid to the Tax Collector to protect the property from being sold at a tax deed sale. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Appellant’s petition. He appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his amended petition for subsequent administration filed pursuant to Florida Probate Rule 5.460(a).

On appeal, the Third DCA agreed with Appellant, finding that pursuant to Florida Probate Rule 5.460(a), Appellant was entitled to seek subsequent administration of the estate to determine his interest in the estate and to effectuate the provision in the will entitling him to a percentage of the sale proceeds as well as reimbursement for the property taxes he had paid.  Rule 5.460(a) states that if, after an estate is closed additional property of the decedent is discovered or if further administration of the estate is required for any other reason, any interested person may file a petition for further administration of the estate. See, Fla. Prob. R. 5.460(a). Although Appellee was permitted to sell the home pursuant to the will, the will also required that Appellant was to receive a percentage of the sale proceeds. Therefore, the Third DCA reversed the trial court’s decision to deny Appellant’s petition for subsequent administration because further administration of the estate was required to determine Appellant’s interest in the estate.

If you or anyone you know is in need of representation in actions involving Guardianship, Probate and/or Trust Disputes, or questions pertaining to such proceedings, please contact The Law Offices of Glenn M. Mednick, P.L., at (954) 315-1154 or gmednick@mednicklawgroup.com.

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