Goodstein v. Goodstein
Goodstein v. Goodstein, --- So.3d --- (Fla. 4th DCA 2019)
I started this blog in 2013, and this is the first time I have the opportunity to write about a case that I am actually involved in. This case involves a long-running dispute between the father of the decedent, the personal representative of the estate, and the decedent's children, the beneficiaries of the estate (the personal representative's grandchildren). The personal representative appealed a decision by the trial court which required all estate assets to be placed in a restricted depository.
Restricted depositories have been common-place in Miami-Dade County for quite some time. Recently, South Palm Beach County has instituted as similar requirement. As a matter of course, all estates opened since the introduction of this policy have been required to place all assets in a restricted depository and assets may only be withdrawn with a court order.
Here, the beneficiaries had concerns about their actions as personal representative of their father's estate, so they asked the court to require a restricted depository. They argued that a restricted depository should be required (1) based on the local policy requiring all estates to have restricted depositories, and (2) because the beneficiaries had concerns about the personal representative's marshaling and expenditure of estate assets, as well as the litigious nature of the case. The trial court agreed.
Probate courts are given the discretion to require restricted depositories pursuant to F.S. 69.031. That statute provides two situations in which a restricted depository may be used: (1) when the size of the bond required of the administrator is burdensome or (2) for "other cause." The Court held that the record showed that the trial court had sufficient "other cause" to require the restricted depository, based on the size of the estate, the general goals of the local policy to preserve the assets and encourage efficient administration, the fact that the beneficiaries and the trial court did not know how the assets were being spent, and the tension between the personal representative and the beneficiaries. The Court did, however, admonish the trial court for the blanket policy of requiring restricted depositories in all cases, and found that "other cause" must be considered on a case-by-case basis.