ARTICLE: Attorney's Fees For Rendering Services To An Estate
Sec. 733.106(3) provides: “Any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be
awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.” This statute is not restricted to
services that bring about an enhancement in value or an increase in the assets of the
estate, but also includes services that are successful in effectuating the testamentary
intention set forth in the will, that prevent the appointment of a personal representative, or
that obtain the removal of a personal representative.
I. ATTORNEY’S FEES ALLOWED:
When is an attorney entitled to an award of attorney's fees pursuant to §733.106(3)?
ü In re Estate of Lewis, 442 So.2d 290 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983). In Lewis, a beneficiary
whose devise was being contested by the personal representative on the basis of undue
voluntarily dismissed his petition.
ü Duncombe v. Adderly, 2008 Fla. App. LEXIS 15405 (Fla. 4th DCA 10/8/08). A
beneficiary who prevents the appointment of a designated personal representative or that
obtains the removal of a personal representative is entitled to an award of attorney's fees.
ü Menz v. Estate of Menz, 381 So.2d 375 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980). In Menz, the surviving
spouse was entitled to her recover attorney’s fees necessitated by the personal
representative's failure to satisfy his duty to file a petition to determine the amount of the
elective share after a proper election had been made because the attorney's efforts on the
widow's behalf resulted in a change in the distribution under the will.
ü Johnson v. Burleson, 61 So.2d 170 (Fla. 1952). In Johnson, the surviving spouse was
entitled to recover her attorney’s fees where the legal services were necessary to require a
personal representative to carry out the provisions of a will and give the surviving spouse
the income as directed in the will.
ü In re Estate of Griffis, 366 So.2d 80 (Fla. 4th DCA 1978). In Griffis, a beneficiary
who successfully argued that decedent's destruction of two later codicils revived the
provisions of the first codicil was entitled to recover his attorney’s fees because the
ultimate will was determined and the estate was benefitted because the beneficiaries
whom the testator intended are the ones who receive their legacies and bequests
ü Baumer v. Howard, 542 So.2d 400 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989). In Baumer, a beneficiary was
entitled to recover attorney’s fees by establishing that the widow unlawfully and
intentionally killed the decedent because the interest of the decedent in the entireties