Florida Probate Litigation: Settlement Agreements
Probate lawyers know that, many times, the parties in an estate lawsuit decide to settle, rather than go to trial. When can a trial court grant a motion to approve a settlement agreement? Can an interested person in a Florida estate lawsuit appeal an order granting a motion to approve a settlement agreement? Does the court need to consider evidence before approving a motion for settlement? When should a settlement agreement NOT be approved? If you are involved in probate litigation in Florida, you may want to read a November 28, 2018 Third DCA opinion, Brenda Nestor v. Estate of Victor Posner.
Here, Brenda Nestor appeals an order granting a joint motion to approve a settlement agreement between the Estate of Victor Posner and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Nestor was the sole residuary beneficiary of the Estate of Victor Posner, and she served as the personal representative of the estate until she was removed for failure to comply with court orders requiring an accounting. The estate owed more than $38 million as a result of Posner’s failure to pay pension plan contributions that he owed. After Nestor was removed as personal representative ,The Estate of Victor Posner and the PBGC filed a joint motion to approve a settlement agreement that provided terms for terminating the pension plan and paying the obligations owed to PBGC. Nestor was the only objector. After the trial court held an evidentiary hearing, the trial court approved the motion. On appeal, Nestor argued that the trial court erred in approving the settlement agreement without competent substantial evidence. She also argued that the settlement agreement was not in the best interest of the interested persons. However, the 3rd DCA agreed with the trial court and found that the joint motion for settlement was properly approved. Why did the Third DCA decide the way they did? Click here to read the entire case and find out.