In the Florida Probate Code, the legislature has taken into account the various attorney’s fees and costs incurred during an estate or trust proceeding, including when there are contested matters and allegations of breach of fiduciary duty. No attorney can guarantee that your attorney’s fees will be paid from the other side; however, there are several statutes that allow a petitioner to seek such financial relief.
Fla. Stat. 733.106 states, in relevant part, as follows:
(1) In all probate proceedings costs may be awarded in chancery actions
(3) Any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.
(4) When costs and attorney’s fees are to be paid from the estate, the court may direct from what part of the estate they shall be paid.
Fla. Stat. 733.609 states, in relevant part, as follows:
(1) A personal representative’s fiduciary duty is the same as the fiduciary duty of a trustee of an express trust, and a personal representative is liable to interested persons for damage or loss resulting from a breach of this duty. In all actions for breach of fiduciary duty or challenging the exercise of or failure to exercise a personal representative’s power, the Court shall award taxable costs in chancery actions, including attorney’s fees.
(2) When awarding taxable costs, including attorney’s 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.
Using these statutes, a savvy probate litigator may be able to get the other party (or the other party’s beneficial interest) to pay for the attorney’s fees that you incurred in bringing a successful breach of fiduciary duty action in Court.