December 2023

Posted December 28, 2023

IMO the Estate of Anastasios G. Nastatos, ROW Folio No. 167885 AF-SEM (November 30, 2023)

            This case dealt with exceptions to an estate inventory, complicated by prior guardianship and property disputes between two of the Decedent’s children: Alex (the “Exceptant”) and Lexx (the “Respondent”). In resolving those disputes, the court had to determine whether the second inventory of the estate provided by the “Administrator” constituted an adequate final accounting.

            Prior to the Decedent’s death on October 4, 2017, the court appointed a guardian for the Decedent. In a November 30, 2020 decision, the court found the appointed guardian to be in breach of his duties resulting from his failure to pay taxes on a property of the Decedent while the Decedent was alive and his failure to disclose to the court the loss of that property.

            On October 31, 2017, the Exceptant filed for appointment as the estate representative. The Respondent subsequently objected. Ultimately, the Register of Wills directed the parties to serve as joint representatives or to appoint a third party—the parties decided on the latter. On June 7, 2018, the Administrator’s appointment was finalized. The Administrator filed his first accounting and first inventory, in June and December of 2019, respectively. Soon after making these filings, the Administrator filed a petition to resign in anticipation of legal action resulting from familial tensions over the contested guardianship as such an action would fall outside of the expected parameters of his role. In a supplement to the hearing over that resignation, the magistrate instructed the Administrator to file two interim accountings of the estate, the second of which (the “Second Accounting”) was filed on May 26, 2022.

            The Exceptant filed exceptions to the Second Accounting. The Exceptant took the position that the Second Accounting was a final accounting, not an interim accounting as it had been classified. The Respondent disagreed and claimed the exceptions were baseless because they raised no challenge to the specific amounts in the Second Accounting.

            The magistrate concluded that the exceptions were subject to judicial review. In her analysis, she rejected the Respondent’s narrow definition of exceptions as redress for monetary charges because such a limitation would impede the court’s ability to settle accounts “according to the right of the matter and law of the land” as constitutionally outlined (citation omitted).

            As to the Second Accounting’s status as interim or final, after a detailed analysis, the Magistrate found that the Exceptant met his burden to show that the estate completed probate and was ready for closure.