For Reasons of Efficiency and Otherwise, Master in Chancery Recommends Allowing Amendment to Petition in Estate Case Despite the Resulting Expansion of Case Scope

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted September 14, 2018

In re: The Matter of the Estate of Rita J. Francisco, deceased, C.A. No. 2017-0424-MTZ  (September 11, 2018)

       Petitioner is the personal representative of the estate of Decedent, who died intestate on December 8, 2016. Petitioner filed a petition to sell real estate to pay the Decedent’s debts. Respondent (who like Petitioner is an intestate heir of the Decedent) objected to that petition and sought to remove Petitioner for allegedly neglecting her duties. Petitioner and Respondent reached a negotiated resolution regarding the proposed property sale and that property was indeed sold in late 2017.

       After that sale occurred, Petitioner sought to amend her petition to add a claim that Respondent misappropriated assets from the Decedent while Decedent was alive. The Master recommended granting Petitioner’s motion to amend. In so doing, the Master noted the fairly liberal allowance of amendments to pleadings per Court of Chancery Rule 15(a). The standard is that amendments be freely given when justice so requires. Here, the Master found there was no basis to infer bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the Petitioner. The Master noted that the sought amendment would expand the case scope, but she found that that was acceptable given that Respondent’s objection had already expanded the scope of the petition and because allowing the amendment would be more efficient than requiring Petitioner to file a new action.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.