In Hill vs. Davis, Davis, a New York resident, filed a petition for administration where he asserted that he was entitled to be appointed the personal representative for the decedent’s estate because he was the stepson of the decedent and he was nominated as personal representative in the decedent’s will. Hill, the decedent’s mother, challenged Davis’s qualifications to serve as personal representative arguing that Davis was not within the categories of persons entitled to serve as a nonresident personal representative under Florida Stat. §733.304. In response, Davis made the procedural argument that pursuant to Florida Stat. §733.212(3), Hill’s ability to challenge his qualifications was limited to three months from date of service of the notice of administration. The trial court held that Davis was qualified to serve as a nonresident personal representative and that Hill’s objection was not filed within the three-month time frame.
There was a split among the court of appeals in Florida regarding the issue of whether there is a time limit for objecting to the qualifications of a personal representative. The Florida First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s holding that Hill’s objection was barred by the three-month time limit as set forth in Florida Stat. §733.212(3); on the other hand, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal held that if a personal representative was never qualified to serve, an objection to the qualifications could be made at any time.
The Florida Supreme Court, disagreeing with the Third District, held that that an objection to the qualifications of a personal representative (including an objection that the personal representative was never qualified to serve) is not timely filed if not filed within three months—except in circumstances where fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct with regard to the qualifications was not apparent on the face of the petition or discovered within the statutory time frame. Since fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct was not alleged in relation to the objection to the personal representative in this case, the objection was barred by the statutory three-month month time limit.