Depending on how complex the estate of a deceased Florida resident is, heirs and beneficiaries have to endure a significant waiting period until they can receive their fair share of the inheritance.
Is it a good idea to sign a waiver of accounting to speed up probate in Florida? Read on to find out.
Florida Probate Procedures – Understanding the Process
When someone dies in Florida and the decedent’s estate must go through formal administration, the court will appoint a personal representative to handle the process of organization and distribution of the assets subject to probate.
Once the personal representative has properly administered the estate, the next step is to file a Petition for Discharge. This document will notify the beneficiaries and clarify which assets are part of the estate, as well as the method used to distribute them.
Before the distribution, the personal representative must file a final accounting. As provided by Florida Probate Rule 5.346 (a), the accounting “shall 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”
After a copy of the petition for discharge and the final accounting is served to each of the interested parties, they have 30 days to object to the final accounting. If one of the interested parties has an objection, it must be in writing and served to the personal representative and the other interested parties.
As expected, this process can result in massive delays, as the personal representative must respond to objections made in writing as well.
Should I Sign Waiver of Accounting During Probate in Florida? – The Verdict
Until the 30-day period reserved for objections has not passed and the final accounting is accepted by all the parties involved, the estate will not be closed. A Waiver of Accounting is a document that allows both the personal representative and the beneficiaries to circumvent this impediment.
Depending on the number of objections filed against a final accounting, it can take months until the distribution of the assets. Successive objections and written answers will result in a costly and time-consuming experience for all the parties involved.
When the beneficiaries and heirs agree to sign a Waiver of Accounting, they are expressly waiving the accounting requirement provided by Florida Probate Rules. Without an accounting or objection period, the distribution can be immediately carried out and the estate can be closed.
Determining whether it is a good idea to sign a waiver of accounting largely depends on each probate case.
If the personal representative has demonstrated to be a trustworthy individual and thoroughly provided the required accounting during the probate process, a final accounting might not be necessary.
Conversely, if the personal representative has not provided sufficient information throughout the process or there are still gaps to be fulfilled in terms of transparency and proper communication, it is not a good idea to sign a Waiver of Accounting.