A Court Must Allow Time for Consideration of Timely Filed Objections to an Accounting or Petition for Discharge Prior to Entry of an Order of Discharge

Posted on February 25, 2018

n Unanue v. Johnson, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 19782 (FLA 2nd DCA 2017), the Court addressed the issue of whether the probate court improperly curtailed the time for objecting to the final accounting of the estate. Fla. Prob. R. 5.400(b)(6) asserts a petition for discharge must contain a statement that any objections to the accounting, the compensation paid or proposed to be paid, or the proposed distribution of assets must be filed within 30 days from the date of service of the last of the petition for discharge or final accounting; and also that within 90 days after filing of the objection, a notice of hearing thereon must be served or the objection is abandoned.

On November 17, 2016, the co-personal representatives for the Estate of Lillian Unanue, Sonia and Casper Johnson, filed a final accounting of the estate and a petition for discharge of the personal representatives. The probate court entered an order of discharge on December 5, 2016, after it found the estate was fully administered and properly distributed.  On December 16, 2016, two beneficiaries of the estate, Robert and George Unanue, filed an objection to the final accounting and petition for discharge. The beneficiaries appealed the order for discharge because the probate court improperly curtailed the time for objecting to the final accounting by prematurely filing the order.

In this case, the order of discharge was entered eighteen days after the final accounting and the petition for discharge were filed. There were no dates on the final accounting or petition for discharge, but it was assumed they would have been served simultaneously with or shortly after their electronic filing. The Second District Court of Appeal found entry of the order of discharge after only eighteen days was premature, and therefore did not allow for consideration of the timely filed objection.  It is significant that in this case the co-personal representatives filed a notice stating that they did not oppose the appeal.

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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