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Florida Statutes, section 733.106: Costs and Attorney Fees

The process of estate administration can involve a variety of expenses that are typically paid from the decedent’s estate. One such expense is attorney’s fees. Attorney’s fees can be significant, especially if they are associated with disputes that are complicated and take a long time to settle or litigate. While the fees associated with such matters may properly be charged to the estate, the probate court has discretion in determining what specific part of the estate should be assessed. If you have questions about expenses and attorney’s fees, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.106- Costs and attorney fees, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who understands the legal requirements of the Florida Probate Code.

Expenses of Administration

In addition to the distribution of estate assets, an important part of the estate administration process is paying estate debts, including expenses related to estate administration. Attorney’s fees are a common expense related to estate administration. Attorney’s fees may be associated with general legal assistance during the administration process. They may also be associated with settling specific disputes that develop during the probate proceeding. Such disputes may directly involve all interested parties, or they may involve a single party. For example, a beneficiary may challenge the validity of the will because he thought that he was entitled to a larger share of the estate. None of the other beneficiaries agreed with the objecting beneficiary, and there was not strong evidence that suggested that the will was not valid. To defend the estate, the personal representative had to hire an attorney to handle that particular dispute. The challenging beneficiary lost.

Other common expenses related to administration include:

  • Court costs
  • Personal representative’s fees
  • Appraiser’s fees
  • Accountant’s fees

If you have concerns related to what expenses of administration are properly paid from estate assets, discuss your concerns with an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer.

Costs and Attorney Fees

The Florida Probate Code has special rules related to how attorney’s fees related to probate proceeding must be handled. Under FL. Stat, section 733.106- Costs and attorney fees, the rules are as follows:

  • Personal representative is entitled to receive costs and attorney fees from the estate even though probate is denied or revoked, as long as the personal representative submitted the will to the court in good faith.
  • Any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.
  • In instances when the court directs attorney’s fees to be paid from estate assets, the court may specify from what part of the estate the fees must be paid. If one person’s part of estate is assessed attorney’s fees, but such part is insufficient to fully pay the assessment, the court may direct payment from the person’s part of a trust, if a pour-over will is involved and the matter is interrelated with the trust.

In determining how to assess attorney’s fees, the court may consider another of factors including the impact of an assessment of attorney’s fees on each person’s part of the estate, the amount of the attorney’s fees, the extent to which each beneficiary actively participated in the proceeding, the merits of the claim, defenses, and objections, and the positive or negative impact to each person’s part of the estate expected from the outcome of the proceeding.

As an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, it is important to understand that the court may assess a person’s estate attorney’s fees, even if the case had merit, and was not frivolous.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Venue of probate proceedings: § 733.101, Fla. Stat.
  2. Effect of probate: § 733.103, Fla. Stat.
  3. Fees and costs; will reformation and modification: § 733.1061, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, section 733.106: Costs and Attorney Fees
  1. In all probate proceedings, costs may be awarded as in chancery actions.
  2. A person nominated as personal representative, or any proponent of a will if the person so nominated does not act within a reasonable time, if in good faith justified in offering the will in due form for probate, shall receive costs and attorney fees from the estate even though probate is denied or revoked.
  3. Any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.
  4. If costs and attorney fees are to be paid from the estate under this section, s. 733.6171(4), s. 736.1005, or s. 736.1006, the court, in its discretion, may direct from what part of the estate they shall be paid.
    1. If the court directs an assessment against a person’s part of the estate and such part is insufficient to fully pay the assessment, the court may direct payment from the person’s part of a trust, if any, if a pour-over will is involved and the matter is interrelated with the trust.
    2. All or any part of the costs and attorney fees to be paid from the estate may be assessed against one or more persons’ part of the estate in such proportions as the court finds to be just and proper.
    3. In the exercise of its discretion, the court may consider the following factors:
      1. The relative impact of an assessment on the estimated value of each person’s part of the estate.
      2. The amount of costs and attorney fees to be assessed against a person’s part of the estate.
      3. The extent to which a person whose part of the estate is to be assessed, individually or through counsel, actively participated in the proceeding.
      4. The potential benefit or detriment to a person’s part of the estate expected from the outcome of the proceeding.
      5. The relative strength or weakness of the merits of the claims, defenses, or objections, if any, asserted by a person whose part of the estate is to be assessed.
      6. Whether a person whose part of the estate is to be assessed was a prevailing party with respect to one or more claims, defenses, or objections.
      7. Whether a person whose part of the estate is to be assessed unjustly caused an increase in the amount of costs and attorney fees incurred by the personal representative or another interested person in connection with the proceeding.
      8. Any other relevant fact, circumstance, or equity.
    4. The court may assess a person’s part of the estate without finding that the person engaged in bad faith, wrongdoing, or frivolousness.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

During a probate proceeding issues may develop that result in additional expenses to the estate. The court is concerned that estate assets are preserved so that the beneficiaries receive distributions according to the wishes of the decedent. Thus, the court will look at expenses, particularly attorney’s fees, and make a determination as to which part of the estate they should be assessed. If you have questions related to payment of expenses, or any other technical or procedural requirement, it is important that you discuss your questions with an experienced estate administration attorney who understands the requirements related to payment of expenses and fees, including the requirements of the of Florida Statutes, section 733.106- Costs and attorney fees. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to probate administration, estate litigation, and other estate matters. Contact an attorney in our office at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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