In Florida probate administrations, one of the major sticking points, if there is one, is usually the accounting. This is especially true when there is a contested formal probate administration or when the beneficiaries lack trust in the personal representative. The final accounting requires the personal representative to provide all interested persons the opportunity to review the transactions of the probate estate. This provides confirmation to all of the interested people in the estate that the assets of the estate were administered correctly. Accountings can be complicated, so it is important to review an accounting with your probate attorney if you have questions.
What is the final accounting?
Under Florida Probate Rule 5.400, the personal representative typically must file a petition for discharge and final accounting within 12 months from the date that the letters of administration were issued, unless the court extends this time period. Florida Probate Rule 5.346 sets out the requirements for accountings by personal representatives. Accountings must include “all cash and property transactions since the date of the last accounting or, if none, from the commencement of administration, and a schedule of assets at the end of the accounting period.” Therefore, an accounting in probate is simply a document that includes all of the transactions that occurred during administration and the assets that remain property of the estate at the end of the accounting period.
In simpler terms, a final accounting is required to contain all cash or property transactions that occurred since the beginning of the estate or when the letters of administration and order appointing personal representative were issued by the probate court. Therefore, you should be able to look at the final accounting in a probate case and be able to see all of the transactions that occurred during the administration of the estate. The final accounting provides some transparency during the probate process by allowing the interested persons for the estate to see what happened with the assets of the estate during administration.
How can I access the final accounting if I am an interested person in a probate case?
Accountings, in addition to the probate inventory, are required to be kept confidential by the clerk of court for the county where the probate case is pending. However, under section 733.604(1)(a)(4), Florida Statutes, the accounting must be disclosed to any interested person of the estate when requested. The final accounting must also be served on interested persons of the estate.
If you are a beneficiary or heir in a Florida probate case you should receive notice of the final accounting that was filed in the probate case. If you did not receive the final accounting, you should be able to request it from the personal representative’s attorney. If the attorney does not provide you with the final accounting, you can request it from the clerk of court, provided that you submit your request to the clerk with identification showing your are an interested person of the estate.
What is the time for objection to a final accounting in a Florida probate administration?
Under Florida Probate Rule 5.401, the time for objecting to a final accounting is within 30 days from the date of receipt of the final accounting by an interested person. As stated above, you should receive the final accounting from the personal representative’s attorney, usually by certified mail return receipt. Therefore, you have 30 days from the time that your receive final accounting to file an objection.
If you are contemplating filing an objection to a final accounting in a Florida probate case, you should consult with an attorney first. As stated before, accountings can be complex documents, and a Florida probate attorney will be able to explain what the accounting says and what objections you may have. Some terms used in probate have a slightly different meaning from their customary use outside of probate. This can be confusing to those unfamiliar with probate. A probate attorney can help you understand these differences. Also, an attorney will be able to review the costs/benefits of filing an objection.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
If you are an interested person, or a beneficiary, in a Florida probate case and are concerned about protecting your rights, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. You can schedule a free consultation through the chat window right on this page. During our consultation, one of our attorneys can review the documents in the probate case that you are involved in, review your options, and provide you with an overview of the probate process. Remember that Florida probate law provides strict timelines for objecting to actions in a probate case. Therefore, if you have concerns, it is best to consult with an attorney as soon as you can.