Under what circumstances can beneficiaries sue the other beneficiaries who held litigation in Fl probate?

Asked over 2 years ago - Ocala, FL

There were 3 beneficiaries and 2 had litagation against the PR which ate up some of the estate money because the PR lawyers took their fees from the estate 3 ways. Now the un-litigating beneficiary want to know 1.) under what circumstances might he get back his expected inheritance and 2)the cheapest way to go about recovering his loss?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. M Daniel Sasso

    Contributor Level 10

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You will have to seek a conference with Probate litigation counsel since there are too many details missing from your question that will change the answer substantially.
    What you must discuss with him/her is:
    a. If the attorney(s) rendered services to the estate and the Court and were so awarded a fee payable by the estate;
    b. Advice on having the Court re open its matter to have Court award the PR's attorney fees and charges to be taken from the complaining beneficiary of the estate.
    c. If PR's conduct was not improper nor in bad faith - his/her fees can be charged against the estate.
    d. If PR left off items especially if had a conflict with the assets or the estate, the court could surcharge the PR's.
    You can review or browse Fl Statutes FS 733.609 as to surcharging in the estate - note that when awarding taxable costs (including atty fees) 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.
    e. "frivolous litigation" - FS 57.105(1) and 768.79, and 772.11(1); may assess an attorney's fee if the action by the beneficiaires was unfounded and not supported by material facts, nor supported by our law to the facts- This by the way also applies against a defense presented by the PR or another beneficiary that might also have been baseless, and wasted a good deal of time and monies.

    Don't forget to mark the bottom for best answer if applicable. Hope this helps.

    An attorney-client relationship has not been established herein and must not be considered legal advice. Licensed... more
  2. Evelyn Watts Cloninger

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Regrettably, it is impossible to answer your question in this forum because many more details would be needed for a responsible attorney to frame a competent response. However, if a beneficiary mounts a "frivolous" attack on the will, or the Personal Representative nominated in that will, the Florida Probate Code does make provision, as the first response attorney pointed out, for a possible surcharge to be imposed against the share of the party mounting such "frivolous" actions. The Personal Representative's counsel can request that the court do this, which requires, unfortunately, more of that attorney's time, for which the estate would be charged more fees. You need to consult with an experienced probate attorney, preferably one well acquainted with contested probate matters rather than just the ordinary ones which do not involve litigation or actions against the Personal Representative. An attorney who "benefits the estate" through rendering services is indeed entitled to payment of a reasonable fee. At the very least, you have the right to challenge the fees which were charged, as to reasonableness, and you can also request that there be a surcharge for the extra fees incurred to the estate imposed against the litigating beneficiaries who did NOT prevail in their efforts, though if the court finds they had a good faith reason for mounting the litigation and prosecuting it through the probate court, such a surcharge will not always be awarded. There are many "ifs" and "buts when dealing with litigation of this nature and determining proper allocation of attorney's fees. Your point is meritorious and you should, in my opinion, invest in an office conference with a probate attorney in your county to determine if you have any likelihood, based not only on the law but the type of jurist who is presently serving in that area in the probate division as current judge for probate cases. A local attorney may have some insights into whether the assigned judge in a matter would be open to the type of request you are contemplating, and whether the personal representative's attorney would perhaps be open to negotiating down their fee rather than fight about it in a formal hearing on the issue of reasonableness, etc. This matter cannot be dealt with completely in this forum and you will need an attorney who will have the b enefit of copies of the pleadings you hopefully can conveniently provide for the office conference. Good luck on it!

    If you found this answer to be the "best answer", please mark the box "best answer" below.This answer is offered... more
  3. Debra G Simms

    Contributor Level 10

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The other attorneys who answered above all make excellent points. I have some further questions for you to consider: You asked how to get back your expected inheritance. Did you lose your inheritance because of the outcome of the case, that is to say, was your right to receive a part of the estate the issue in the litigation? Or are you saying that some of your inheritance was spent on attorney fees for the other beneficiaries? This is critical in knowing how to advise you on your next step. Please seek out the counsel of attorney who will be able to review the court pleadings.

    Good luck!

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