Hill v. Davis, — So.3d —-, 2011 WL 3847252 (Fla. Sep 01, 2011)
I previously wrote here about the split between the 1st DCA and the 3d DCA regarding whether the 3-month statute of limitations period contained in F.S. 733.212(3) applies to personal-representative disqualification motions. The statute provides as follows:
(3) Any interested person on whom a copy of the notice of administration is served must object to the validity of the will, the qualifications of the personal representative, the venue, or the jurisdiction of the court by filing a petition or other pleading requesting relief in accordance with the Florida Probate Rules on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on the objecting person, or those objections are forever barred.
3d DCA said NO, statute doesn’t apply to PR disqualification motions, 1st DCA said YES it does. The Florida Supreme Court has now weighed in, holding that YES, the the 3-month statute of limitations period contained in F.S. 733.212(3) DOES apply to personal-representative disqualification motions.
The issue before us is whether an objection to the qualifications of a personal representative of an estate is barred by the three-month filing deadline set forth in section 733.212(3), Florida Statutes (2007), a provision of the Florida Probate Code, when the objection is not filed within that statutory time frame. For the reasons explained below, we hold that section 733.212(3) bars an objection to the qualifications of a personal representative, including an objection that the personal representative was never qualified to serve, if the objection is not timely filed under this statute, except where fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct with regard to the qualifications is not apparent on the face of the petition or discovered within the statutory time frame. Accordingly, because fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct was not alleged in relation to the objection to the personal representative in this case, we approve the decision of the First District Court of Appeal in Hill.FN1 To the extent that the decision of the Third District in Angelus involved allegations of fraud and misrepresentation not revealed in the petition for administration, we approve the result in Angelus. However, we disapprove Angelus to the extent that it holds section 733.212(3) does not bar objections that a personal representative was never qualified to serve. We turn first to the facts of this case.
FN1. This case does not involve a proceeding filed under probate code sections 733.504, Florida Statutes (2007), and 733.506, Florida Statutes (2007), which provide for an adversary proceeding to remove a personal representative for reasons set forth in section 733.504. Thus, our decision in this case is limited to objections filed pursuant to section 733.212(3).