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Reid v. Guardianship of Reid

Reid v. Guardianship of Reid, 277 So.3d 1053 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019)
It is well established that under Florida law, the most important aspect of guardianship law is the protection of the ward. This basic philosophy must be taken into consideration in all aspects of guardianship administration, including awards of attorney's fees. Accordingly, F.S. 744.108(2) provides the criteria that a court must consider in determining reasonable attorneys' fees in guardianship proceedings. The list of criteria includes the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill required, the fee customarily charged, and the nature and value of the incapacitated person's property.
Here, in determining a reasonable award of attorney's fees for an appellate lawyer in a guardianship proceeding, the trial court did not consider the nature and value of the guardianship assets (there were none). The Court held that by approving the reasonableness of the fees, …

Cantero v. Estate of Caswell

Cantero v. Estate of Caswell, --- So.3d --- (Fla. 3d DCA 2019)
This decision involves an appeal of a trial court's order striking a claim as untimely. The claimant argued that his claim was timely because he was a reasonably ascertainable creditor who was not served with notice. The Court disagreed.
The claimant argued that the estate should have known about his claim based on several conversations he had with the personal representative and the personal representative's attorneys. He was claiming an ownership interest in the decedent's real property because he paid for the property and paid the mortgage premiums over 20 years prior to the decedent's death for a 5 year period of time while he has in a relationship with the decedent. In his calls to the personal representative, the claimant apparently only mentioned that he had left some car parts in the garage and never said anything about an ownership interest in the property. He argued that he inquired, "What was …

Wilson v. Wilson

Wilson v. Wilson, 279 So.2d 160 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019)
This decision deals with whether subsequent to executing a prenuptial agreement, language in a decedent's trust directing the trustee to set aside "as much property as is necessary to satisfy the Wife's elective share" constituted a modification of the prenuptial agreement such that the wife could then elect to take her elective share. The Court found that it did not.
The prenuptial agreement contained a clear waiver of the elective share. It also provided that the agreement could only be modified in writing, signed by both parties. The agreement allowed the couple to make testamentary gifts to each other without invalidating the agreement. 
Following the decedent's death, the wife filed a notice of election to take her elective share in accordance with the trust. The Court held that the prenuptial agreement contained a clear and unambiguous waiver of the elective share. The creation of the trust did not modify the…

Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell

Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell, 276 So.3d 830 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019)
It is not uncommon for a health care surrogate or an agent under a power of attorney to sign a nursing home admission form for an elderly family member who is unable to do so for himself. These admission forms may contain more than just health care related or financial related provisions, so it is important to consider the nature and the scope of the family member's authority in determining whether they can bind someone to all of the terms of the agreement.
In this instance, the nursing home admission form contained a binding arbitration provision. The nursing home argued that because the form was signed by the decedent's sons as surrogates under a document entitled "Durable Power of Attorney Containing Health Care Surrogate Decisions," the decedent was bound by the arbitration clause. The Court found that an arbitration provision can be enforced if either: (1) the power of attorney makes a specific grant …

Herman v. Bennett

Herman v. Bennett, 278 So.3d 178 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019)
In the world of creditor's claims, the difference of just one day can make a world of difference. Here, a creditor filed their claim exactly 3 months and one day after the date of publication of the notice to creditors. The Court held that F.S. 733.702(1) is unambiguous- the three month limitations period begins to run on the date of the first publication of the notice to creditors. Florida Rule of Judicial Admin. 2.514, which provides for excluding the day of the event that triggers a time period when a statute does not specify a method of computing time is inapplicable here, because the statute clearly specifies the method for computing time. Thus, the claim was untimely and must be stricken.

Wallace v. Comprehensive Personal Care Services, Inc.

Wallace v. Comprehensive Personal Care Services, Inc., 275 So.3d 782 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019)
This decision highlights the disconnect between the Appellate Courts and the reality of practicing guardianship law. Here, prior to an incapacity proceeding, the court in a related trust matter entered a protective order dealing with the dissemination of medical records. Later, prior to filing for guardianship, the AIP's son sought an order from the court allowing him to attach those medical records to his petition to determine incapacity. The trial court denied his request.
The Appellate Court affirmed, basing its analysis on the procedures set forth in Chapter 744. Apparently, the Court has a great deal of faith that the members of examining committees will abide by the provisions of Chapter 744. The Court seemed to feel that because the petitioner can outline the factual basis for their beliefs in their petition, can name the AIP's attending physician, and because F.S. 744.331 requires at …

Mullins v. Mullins

Mullins v. Mullins, --- So.3d --- (Fla. 5th DCA 2019)
This decision deals with the effect of an order determining homestead on a beneficiary's interest in the homestead property. Specifically, the Court considered whether a consent to the entry of an order determining homestead, where that order does not properly lay out the ownership interests in the property, is enough to actually alter the parties ownership interests. The Court held that it did not.
The decedent in question left her homestead to her three children, subject to a life estate for two of the three children for as long as they wanted to live there. The probate court entered an order determining homestead which stated that the homestead was devised in equal shares to the three children but failed to mention the life estates. The Court considered whether the homestead order in and of itself could eradicate the life estates. It held that because the consents to the homestead order were not formal agreements to modify the…