In a recent case, the court had to determine if a notice of objection to the issuance of an appointment of an estate trustee could be filed after summary judgment had been granted, striking another objector’s objections as invalid and a certificate of appointment had been issued to the estate trustees.
By way of background, the estate trustees were successful in a summary judgment motion that dismissed the testator’s son’s objection to their appointment (“Appellant”). The Appellant was seeking an extension of time to file an appeal of that summary judgment. In the meantime, another beneficiary (“Objector”), who was supportive of the Appellant, filed a notice of objection to the appointment of the estate trustees.
In addition to other relief sought, the estate trustees sought an order dismissing the Objector’s notice of objection filed after the judgment appointing them as estate trustees was made. The judgment appointing them was made on October 24, 2012 but not formally entered until April 3, 2013. The Objector filed her notice of objection on December 16, 2012.
The objections filed were essentially the same objections filed earlier by the Appellant in the matter. In the summary judgment motion, the Appellant’s objections were dismissed, his mother’s will was declared valid, and a certificate of appointment of estate trustees with a will was to be issued. However, while judgment appointing the estate trustees was made on October 24, 2012, the judgment was not formally entered until April 3, 2013. Pursuant to Rule 75.03(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, a notice of objection can be filed at any time before a certificate of appointment of estate trustee has been issued. The court clarified that while the judgment was not formally entered until April 3, 2013, the operative date of the order appointing the estate trustees was October 24, 2012. The Objector was out of time to file her notice of objection.
The court explained that to allow her to file her objections, “would encourage parties to delay the issuance of a formal judgment so that additional notices of objection could be filed thereby obtaining a procedural stay without the necessity of seeking a court order.”
The court went on to find the Objector’s filing of her notice of objection after summary judgment to be an abuse of process. The Objector was served with the initial proceedings and delivered an affidavit in support of the Appellant in the summary judgment motion. She only filed her objections after the Appellant’s objections were dismissed in an effort to continue the litigation. The Objector was ordered to pay costs to the estate trustees.
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