Attorney Fee Issues in Florida Probate Court Partition Actions
Lawyers in Florida who handle inheritance disputes and lawsuits involving wills and trusts in probate court often find themselves embroiled in a battle for attorneys ‘ fees. Typically, in Florida for an award of attorney’s fees to be paid, there has to be some statutory or contractual basis. In other words, if the parties don’t have an agreement that provides that the lawyers will be paid, then there must be some law written in the books by the state government that affords payment for legal fees.
Florida estate and trust lawyers sometimes encounter situations in the administration of wills, estates, and trusts, that involve dividing a parcel of real property for distribution to beneficiaries. These types of cases are referred to as “partition actions” and lawyers are entitled to an award of fees. Florida Statutes Section 64.081. The number of attorney’s fees to be awarded in a partition action is within the discretion of the trial court. This rule was affirmed recently by a Florida Court in Fernandez-Fox v. Reyes (Fla. 5th DCA, February 17, 2012). Pursuant to the statute, each party to a partition action must pay a share of the attorney’s fees to the plaintiff’s attorney, the defendant’s attorney, or to each of them.