Subsequent Estate Administration
February 17, 2022
One may wonder what happens when additional property is discovered after an estate is closed and distributions are made to the beneficiaries. For example, a life insurance policy, an unknown bank account, or perhaps some stocks may be discovered after the estate is closed.
In Florida, the method for dealing with this later-discovered additional property is governed by Florida Statute 733.903 and Florida Probate Rule 5.460 for “Subsequent Administration”. Rule 5.460 provides:
- (a) Petition. If, after an estate is closed, additional property of the decedent is discovered or if further administration of the estate is required for any other reason, any interested person may file a petition for further administration of the estate. The petition shall be filed in the same probate file as the original administration.
- (b) Contents. The petition shall state:
- 1. the name, address, and interest of the petitioner in the estate;
- 2. the reason for further administration of the estate;
- 3. the description, approximate value, and location of any asset not included among the assets of the prior administration; and
- 4. a statement of the relief sought.
- (c) Order. The court shall enter such orders as appropriate. Unless required, the court need not revoke the order of discharge, reissue letters, or require bond.
The Third District Court of Appeal recently reaffirmed the application of the Rule, noting that any interested person can move the court to reopen the estate for subsequent administration. See Continental Motors Inc. v. Rosenthal, 278 So. 3d 247 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019). The Continental court cited to its earlier decision in Mathis v. Mathis, 178 So. 3d 919 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), wherein the trial court denied the petition seeking to reopen the estate for subsequent administration, and the appellate court reversed, deeming that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the petition.
Reopening an estate for further or subsequent administration is not one of the proceedings that is deemed to be what is considered an “adversary proceeding” under the Florida Probate Rules (which is where the civil rules of procedure are invoked), so in reviewing the assets to be subsequently administered, your attorney would likely need to provide informal notice of the request for subsequent administration of the estate assets to those affected by it. That is, of course, unless the proceeding is deemed to be adversary. Should you find yourself with later-discovered property which requires administration, you should consult with your trusted probate lawyer.