Florida Probate Statute 733.1061: Fees and Costs; Will Reformation and Modification
When a will is admitted to probate by a circuit court judge, the judge is acknowledging his or her belief that the will is valid and reflects the wishes of the decedent. However, there are occasions when a will, although valid, has a mistake. If this happens, the court may reform or modify the will so that it reflects the intent of the testator. If you have questions about the process for reforming or modifying a will of a deceased testator, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.1061- Fees and costs; will reformation and modification, contact a skilled Florida probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Reformation or Modification of a Will
After a will has be admitted to probate, there are occasions where the circuit court judge can modify or reform the will. A reformation involves re-writing an inaccuracy in the will. After reformation, the will is treated as if the will had been written that way all along because the change reflects the intent of the testator. Any interested party such as the personal representative or a beneficiary may petition the court to reform the terms of a will in order to make it consistent with the testator’s intent. The court will only grant such a petition if the petitioner proves by clear and convincing evidence that a mistake of fact or mistake of law impacted the accomplishment of the testator’s intent and the terms of the will.
In addition, as an experienced Florida probate lawyer will explain, the court may also modify a will to achieve the testator’s tax objectives. A modification of a will is a change made to a will designed to achieve a testator’s objectives.Fees and Costs; Will Reformation and Modification
When a will is reformed or modified to achieve the testator’s intent or tax objectives, there may be costs associated with the process. Under FL. Stat, section 733.1061- Fees and costs; will reformation and modification, the court shall award taxable costs, including attorney’s fees and guardian ad litem fees. The judge may order that the taxable costs be paid from a party’s interest in the estate. In the alterative, the judge may enter a judgment which may be satisfied from property of the party or other than estate property, or both.Other Provisions Related to Fees
In addition to provisions related to how fees related to proceedings to modify or reform a will should be assessed, the Florida Probate Code has general rules related to how attorney’s fees related to probate proceeding must be handled. The estate will be required to pay attorneys fees and costs related to a proceeding that results in a will not be admitted to probate, as long as the petition submitted the will in good faith. In general, any attorney who has worked for an estate is entitled to receive payment from the estate. However, the attorney would be entitled to only reasonable compensation. When attorney’s fees are to be paid from estate assets, the court will decide if it is appropriate to assess the fees to only the part of the estate of one person, or more than one person based on that person’s involvement in the issue that resulted in the attorney’s fees. For more information about attorney’s fees, contact an experienced probate attorney in Florida.Related Statutory Provisions
- Reformation to correct mistakes: § 732.615, Fla. Stat.
- Modification to achieve testator’s tax objectives: § 732.616, Fla. Stat.
- Costs and attorney’s fees: § 733.106, Fla. Stat.
- In a proceeding arising under s. 732.615 or s. 732.616, the court shall award taxable costs as in chancery actions, including attorney’s fees and guardian ad litem fees.
- When awarding taxable costs, including attorney’s fees and guardian ad litem fees, under this section, the court in its discretion may direct payment from a party’s interest, if any, in the estate or enter a judgment which may be satisfied from other property of the party, or both.
During the process of probate administration, there will be expenses that are appropriately charged to the estate. Whether you are a personal administrator, beneficiary, or heir, it is important to understand the rules related to the payment of expenses that arise during administration, including the rules of Florida Statutes, section 733.1061- Fees and costs; will reformation and modification. If you have questions related to probate administration, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced probate attorney serving Florida. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to probate, estate administration, and estate litigation.