The Petition for Discharge and Final Accounting is the last phase of the probate process and is important for Florida personal representatives to know about. In a formal administration, the personal representative is in charge of administering the assets of the deceased. They have a fiduciary duty to follow the wishes of the deceased if there was a Will and to do what is best for the estate.
The personal representative’s duties usually include:
- Locating and securing the assets of the estate
- Providing notice to creditors
- Making an inventory of the assets
- Selling or investing assets
- Paying creditors and other debts
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries
Once the personal representative has done all of the above, they can then proceed to the last part of the probate process, which is the final accounting and discharge. The personal representative has to file the petition with the probate court to essentially “close up” the estate. If you are a personal representative and have questions about how to correctly do so in Florida, please contact our highly experienced Florida probate law team for guidance.
Rule 5.400 of Florida probate law is called “Distribution and Discharge” and provides the statutory guidance for this process. The rule provides that the personal representative shall file a final accounting and a petition for discharge—along with a plan of distribution—once they have completed all their tasks and they are about to distribute the last remaining assets.
The rule also says that the petition for discharge must contain the following statements:
- The personal representative has fully administered the estate.
- All creditors’ claims have been paid, settled, or otherwise disposed of.
- The personal representative has paid or made provision for the payment of taxes and other expenses of administration.
- A showing of the amount the personal representative will pay to people hired by the estate—including attorneys, accountants, and other professionals/entities employed by the personal representative during administration. It must also show how the personal representative got to that number.
- A plan of distribution of the remaining assets within the estate, which includes:
- A schedule of the prior distributions made
- The property left in the hands of the personal representative for distribution
- A schedule describing the proposed distribution of the remaining assets
- The amount the personal representative is retaining to pay off the remaining expenses in the distribution and termination of the estate administration.
- Any objections to the petition for discharge must be filed within 30 days of the receipt of the petition. The objections must be written and must specifically state the grounds upon which the party is objecting to the petition for discharge.
A copy of the petition for discharge and final accounting must be filed and served on interested parties within 12 months. The probate court may extend the 12 months if interested parties show cause.
The personal representative then promptly distributes the estate assets in accordance with the plan of distribution they outline when they filed the petition for discharge, unless a party objects. If there are no objections and all assets are finally distributed, the probate court will enter an order that officially discharges the personal representative. This is officially where the role of the personal representative ends and the probate case is over.
If you are a Florida personal representative thinking about filing a petition for discharge, you should consult with an experienced Florida probate law attorney as soon as possible. We will help you file the petition and guide you through any objections to the petition should they arise. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or call us at 305-456-3255. Hablamos Español!