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In re Amendments to the Florida Probate Rules-2019 Fast-Track Report

Supreme Court of Florida

January 16, 2020

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA PROBATE RULES-2019 FAST-TRACK REPORT.

         THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL NOT ALTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THESE AMENDMENTS.

          Original Proceeding - The Florida Probate Rules Committee

          Jeffrey Scott Goethe, Chair, Florida Probate Rules Committee, Bradenton, Florida, Joshua E. Doyle, Executive Director, and Krys Godwin, Staff Liaison, The Florida Bar, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          PER CURIAM.

         The Florida Bar's Probate Rules Committee (Committee) has filed a "fast-track" out-of-cycle report proposing amendments to the Florida Probate Rules in response to recent legislation. See Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.140(e)(1). We have jurisdiction[1] and adopt the amendments as proposed.

         The Committee proposes amendments to the following rules: 5.015 (General Definitions); 5.043 (Deposit of Wills and Codicils); 5.120 (Administrator Ad Litem and Guardian Ad Litem); 5.200 (Petition for Administration); 5.210 (Probate of Wills Without Administration); 5.215 (Authenticated Copy of Will); and 5.230 (Commission to Prove Will).

         The Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar unanimously approved the Committee's proposals. The Committee did not publish the proposals before filing them with the Court. After considering the Committee's proposals and the relevant legislation, we amend the Florida Probate Rules as proposed by the Committee. The more significant amendments are discussed below.

         First, pertaining to rule 5.015, subdivision (b)(1) is amended to add "whether in paper or electronic form," after "original" to make it clear that a "certified copy" can apply to electronic wills. See ch. 2019-71, § 37, Laws of Fla. (enacting § 732.526, Fla. Stat. (2019)). As amended, subdivision (b)(1) provides:" '[C]ertified copy' means a copy of a document signed and verified as a true copy by the officer to whose custody the original, whether in paper or electronic form, is entrusted."

         Second, rule 5.043 is amended to add language requiring that electronic wills, in addition to paper wills, be maintained in their original format for twenty years after submission. See ch. 2019-71, § 37, Laws of Fla. (enacting § 732.526, Fla. Stat. (2019)). Specifically, "including but not limited to an electronic will," is added after "executed will or codicil." As amended, the sentence reads: "Notwithstanding any rule to the contrary, and unless the court orders otherwise, any original executed will or codicil, including but not limited to an electronic will, deposited with the court . . . must be retained . . . ."

         Accordingly, the Florida Probate Rules are amended as reflected in the appendix to this opinion. New language is indicated by underscoring; deletions are indicated by struck-through type. The amendments shall take effect immediately upon the release of this opinion. Because the amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption, interested persons shall have seventy-five days from the date of this opinion in which to file comments with the Court.[2]

         It is so ordered.

          CANADY, C.J., and POLSTON, LABARGA, LAWSON, and MUÑIZ, JJ., concur.

         APPENDIX

         RULE 5.015. GENERAL DEFINITIONS

         (a) [No Changes]

         (b) Specific Definitions. When used in these rules

         (1) "certified copy" means a copy of a document signed and verified as a true copy by the officer to whose custody the original, whether in paper or electronic form, is entrusted;

(2)-(7) [No Changes]
Committee Notes Rule History
1977-2008 Revision: [No Changes]

         2020: Revision: Subdivision (b)(1) amended to reference electronic original documents consistent with section 732.526, Florida Statutes. Committee notes revised.

Statutory References
§ 1.01, Fla. Stat. Definitions.
§ 393.063, Fla. Stat. Definitions.
§ 393.12, Fla. Stat. Capacity; appointment of guardian advocate.
§ 731.201, Fla. Stat. General definitions.
§ 732.526, Fla. Stat. Probate.
§ 736.0103, Fla. Stat. Definitions.
§ 738.102, Fla. Stat. Definitions.
§ 739.102, Fla. Stat. Definitions.
§ 744.102, Fla. Stat. Definitions.

         RULE 5.043. DEPOSIT OF WILLS AND CODICILS

         Notwithstanding any rule to the contrary, and unless the court orders otherwise, any original executed will or codicil, including but not limited to an electronic will, deposited with the court must be retained by the clerk in its original form and must not be destroyed or disposed of by the clerk for 20 years after submission regardless of whether the will or codicil has been permanently recorded as defined by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.430.

Committee Notes
2012 Adoption. [No Changes]
Rule History
2012 Revision: New Rule.

         2020 Revision: Added reference to deposit of electronic wills consistent with section 732.526, Florida Statutes. Committee notes revised.

Statutory References
§ 731.201(16), (40), Fla. Stat. General definitions.
§ 732.526, Fla. Stat. Probate.
§ 732.901, Fla. Stat. Production of wills.
Rule References
Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.430 Retention of court records. Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.525 Electronic filing.

         RULE 5.120. ADMINISTRATOR AD LITEM AND GUARDIAN AD LITEM

(a)-(g) [No Changes]
Committee
Notes Rule History

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