No. 263 Harrisburg 1982, No. 264 Harrisburg 1982, Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Dauphin County at No. 539, Year of 1974.
Joseph J. Dixon, Harrisburg, for appellant (at No. 263) and for participating party (at No. 264).
John R. Fenstermacher, Harrisburg, for appellants (at No. 264) and for appellees (at No. 263).
Wickersham, Del Sole and Montemuro, JJ.
[ 327 Pa. Super. Page 321]
Appellants, Paula, Timothy, and Jacob Christine were minors when their mother died on March 26, 1974. In view of the fact that their father had predeceased their mother, one of their older brothers, Charles, appellee herein, was appointed guardian of the estates and persons of the minors in June of 1974. The initial amount of guardianship funds Charles received was $9,801.12. At the time of the appointment, the only additional assets expected to come into the estates of the minors were monthly annuity payments in the amount of $466.72 for each ward from the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement Board.
On March 7, 1977, Timothy and Jacob (Paula had previously reached her majority) filed a petition to grant a citation to Charles to show cause why he should not be removed as guardian of their estates and persons. The grounds for the petition were (1) misappropriation and waste of estate funds; (2) appropriation of estate funds by the guardian to his own use; and (3) physical and psychological abuse of the wards by the guardian. The court ordered the guardian to file an accounting. Appellants filed objections to the accounting. A master was appointed, hearings were held, and the master reported his findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations to the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. Essentially, the master concluded that substantial amounts of the guardianship
[ 327 Pa. Super. Page 322]
funds had been converted by the guardian (appellee) for his own use, that the guardian had co-mingled guardianship funds with his own funds, and that the guardian had failed to invest the estate assets to yield interest to the wards. On the basis of these findings, the Master recommended to the court: (1) that Paula be paid $5,228.41 as of January 1, 1980, together with interest at the rate of $.65 per day for each day after January 1, 1980; (2) Timothy be paid $15,120.78 as of January 1, 1980, together with interest at the rate of $1.96 per day for each day after January 1, 1980; and (3) that Jacob be paid $17,560.51 as of January 1, 1980, together with interest at the rate of $2.31 per day for each day after January 1, 1980. (RR 179a-180a). In arriving at each of these figures, the master included a surcharge for interest from the date appellee received the guardianship funds in the amount of six percent (6%) per annum, simple interest. The parties then submitted exceptions to the master's report. In an opinion and order filed July 19, 1982, the Honorable Lee F. Swope, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, dismissed both the guardian's and the wards' exceptions and approved and adopted the recommendations made by the master, awarding the aforesaid sums to the wards. These cross-appeals were timely filed.
In this appeal, appellee-guardian Charles Christine presents the following issues for our consideration:
I. Was the court's refusal to grant an extension or continuance to allow the testimony of the certified public accountant who filed and prepared the accounts of the guardianship so prejudicial as to require a reversal or remand?
II. Should the exceptions of the wards be dismissed because they were filed in an untimely manner or alternatively, should they be dismissed ...