In the case at bar, Hampton v. Estate of Allen, 198 So.3d 954 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016), Mary Lou Jordan sought specific performance of a real estate sales contract she had pending with the seller, Allen, at the time of his death. Hampton, who was the specific devisee of the real estate contact in question, filed a Motion for Authority to Defend Civil Action. The Trial Court heard the motion and granted it, thus reversing Hampton’s right to petition the court for compensation of any associated attorneys fees and costs based on providing a benefit to the estate. The trial court denied Hamptons claim for attorney’s fees and costs. The Court cited that “the dismissal of Jordan’s specific performance action did not enhance or increase the assets of the estate and no benefit was bestowed upon or received by the state.” estate. Hampton v. Estate of Allen, 198 So. 3d 954, 955 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016) Hampton appealed.
The Court references Section 733.106(3) Costs and attorney fees to determine what services an attorney can provide that benefit the estate. In doing so the Court concluded that, “Any attorney who has rendered services to an estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate.” In past cases, Florida Courts have determined that the standard for services provided to an estate to qualify for attorney’s costs and fees must enhance the value of the estate as well as give service to the testamentary intentions that have been set forth in the will.
As a result of successfully defending against Jordan’s specific performance action, the real estate in question was transferred to Hampton as was represented in Seller-Allen’s Will. Consequently, Hamptons request for attorney’s fees should have been granted. Therefore, the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded this case.
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