H.B. No. 2702
90-DAY FREE FILING FEE RULE EXTENDED TO 120 DAYS
Governor Bush signed HB 2702 on June 2, 1997. HB 2702 becomes effective September 1, 1997.
Although you high-powered probate lawyers probably don't know this (your legal assistants sure do), when you initiate a new probate proceeding (for example, if you file an application to probate will and for issuance of letters testamentary), the filing fee you pay up front covers the filing of all pleadings, orders, etc., in the case from the date of initiating the action until the EARLIER of (1) the day the judge signs the order approving the inventory or (2) 90 days after initiating the action. After the "free" filing period ends, each filing costs $3 for the first page and $2 for each additional page.
Rep. Zbranek (or one of his constituents) apparently got fed up with paying these per-page fees when it took longer than 90 days to complete and file the inventory. He authored HB 2702, which originally would have eliminated the 90-day requirement completely, meaning that the "free" period would always last until the judge approved the inventory, no matter how long that took.
That, my friends, would have been great, especially in the case of a taxable estate, where the inventory usually is not filed until the federal estate tax return is prepared, and the deadline for filing the estate tax return is 9 months after the date of death. Thus, in the biggest estates (where the inventory is likely to contain the most pages, but where the estate is likely to be able to afford the filing fees), one must pay the per-page fee to file the inventory.
Somewhere along the way, Rep. Zbranek's bill was amended so that the time limit for "free" filings was not eliminated entirely but was merely extended by 30 days, to 120 days. That's the way HB 2702 read when it was enacted.
Obviously, from the probate attorney's point of view, 120 days is better than 90 days. However, unless you can regularly get the tax returns done in 120 days (and if you can, please don't broadcast the fact because you'll give the rest of us a bad name), you'll still be paying to file the inventory in most cases.
Perhaps the day limit was retained because in some proceedings (such as probating a will as a muniment of title), there is no inventory filed.