Katherine Herman, Personal Representative for the Estate of Steve Allen Herman, a/k/a Steve A. Herman, Appellant,
Nancy Herman Bennett, Appellee.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Donna M.
Jonathan S. Dean and Sarah C. Rummel of Dean and Dean, LLP,
Ocala, for Appellant.
Rowe, David P. Grigaltchik, and Boris Galustov of Grigaltchik
& Galustov, P.A., Jacksonville, for Appellee.
Katherine Herman, appeals the trial court's order denying
her petition for an order striking Appellee's, Nancy
Herman Bennett's, claim for being untimely filed. Because
the trial court erred in determining that Appellee's
claim was timely filed under section 733.702(1), Florida
Statutes (2017), we reverse.
was appointed as personal representative of the estate of her
deceased father, Steve Allen Herman, and filed a petition to
determine the beneficiary of an annuity contract. On January
4, 2018, a notice to creditors was published. On April 5,
2018, Appellee, the decedent's sister, filed an answer to
the petition and a statement of claim against the estate.
Appellant, in turn, filed a petition for an order striking
untimely filed claim, arguing that Appellee's claim was
barred under section 733.702, Florida Statutes (2017), which
provides that a claim against an estate must be filed:
on or before the later of the date that is 3 months after the
time of the first publication of the notice to creditors or,
as to any creditor required to be served with a copy of the
notice to creditors, 30 days after the date of service on the
contended that because the notice to creditors was first duly
published on January 4th, and Appellee was served a copy of
the notice by mail on January 21st, the time for filing any
claims expired on April 4th, rendering her April 5th claim
time barred. Appellee countered that her claim was timely
filed because the computation of the three-month period set
forth in section 733.702(1) is governed by Florida Rule of
Judicial Administration 2.514, pursuant to which the time
period began the day after the event triggering it and ended
on April 5th.
trial court found that it is unclear from the language of
section 733.702(1) if the three-month creditor's claim
period begins to run on the first day of publication or the
day after and, thus, resorted to Florida Rule of Judicial
Administration 2.514 for guidance. Upon application of the
rule, the court found that "the 3-month claims period
began to run on January 5, 2018 and expired on April 5, 2018.
Therefore, the last day for any creditor to file a claim
against the estate . . . was April 5, 2018."
Accordingly, the court denied the petition for an order
striking untimely filed claim and declared the cause
adversarial. This appeal followed.
review a trial court's decision on a petition to strike a
claim against an estate as untimely for an abuse of
discretion. Strulowitz v. Cadle Co., II, Inc., 839
So.2d 876, 879 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); see also Morgenthau
v. Estate of Andzel, 26 So.3d 628, 630 (Fla. 1st DCA
2009), disapproved on other grounds by Jones v.
Golden, 176 So.3d 242 (Fla. 2015). However, the
standard of review is de novo to the extent the
issue turns on statutory interpretation. Morgenthau,
26 So.3d at 630; see also W. Fla. Reg'l Med. Ctr.,
Inc. v. See, 79 So.3d 1, 8 (Fla. 2012) (stating that
questions of statutory construction are reviewed de
novo). The polestar of statutory construction is
legislative intent. See, 79 So.3d at 8. To discern
legislative intent, the court must first look to the plain
and obvious meaning of the statute's text. Id.
at 9. If the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, the
court must apply that unequivocal meaning and may not resort
to the rules of statutory construction. Id. The
court must give full effect to all statutory provisions and
avoid readings that would render a part of a statute
meaningless; additionally, the court may not construe an
unambiguous statute in a way that would extend, modify, or
limit its express terms or its reasonable and obvious
implications. Bennett v. St. Vincent's Med. Ctr.,
Inc., 71 So.3d 828, 838 (Fla. 2011).
733.702 is titled "Limitations on presentation of
claims" and provides in ...