December 27, 2011

Guarding Due Process Rights in Guardianship: Fourth DCA Holds Timely Objection to Guardianship Plan Entitles Objector to a Hearing

Rothman-Browning v. Marshall
Case No. 4D11-2079

The Fourth District Court of Appeal (“DCA”) reviewed a trial court order approving a guardianship plan over objection from a co-trustee. The co-trustee had filed the objection exactly thirty days after the guardianship plan was filed. The trial court approved the guardianship plan despite the co-trustee’s objection. The trial court later denied the objection as untimely without addressing the merits.

On appeal, the Fourth DCA examined section 744.367(4), Florida Statutes (2010), which provides that an interested person may file an objection to a guardianship plan “within thirty days” after filing of the guardianship report. The court also reviewed section 744.369(7), Florida Statutes (2010), which provides that, “[i]f an objection has been filed to a report, the court shall set the matter for hearing and shall conduct the hearing within 30 days after the filing of the objection.” The Fourth DCA held that the plain language of the statutes entitles one who files an objection to a guardianship plan within thirty days of the filing of the guardianship plan to a hearing. The co-trustee had filed the objection timely, so the court remanded and reversed for the trial court to consider the objection.