Ehrlich v. Severson, — So.2d —-, 2008 WL 2512375 (Fla. 4th DCA Jun 25, 2008)

Although the 4th DCA reversed the probate judge’s ruling in this case, it did recognize that there’s a glitch in the statute governing the payment of examining committees.  If a large part of your practice focuses on guardianship matters (mine doesn’t) and you’re a member of the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section or RPPTL Section, responding to the 4th DCA’s request for a legislative fix sounds like a great project to run with.

Gladys Ehrlich was the subject of a guardianship petition which was denied. She appeals an order which requires her to pay the fees of the examining committee.

Although we acknowledge that payment of the examining committee’s fees should not be contingent on the outcome of the competency determination, we agree with appellant that the procedural statute for determining incapacity does not make the potential ward responsible for examining committee fees where the guardianship petition is dismissed or denied. See § 744.331(7), Fla. Stat. (2007).[FN1]

[FN1.] We note that the subject statute formerly provided for examining committee fees to be paid from “the general fund of the county in which the petition was filed.” § 744.331(7)(a), Fla. Stat. (1995). However, the 1996 amendment to the statute appears to have eliminated the county’s liability except in cases where the ward is indigent. This leaves a gap in responsibility for payment of the fees where a good faith petition is denied or dismissed. The Legislature needs to specify who pays the examining committees fees in this circumstance.