Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Florida Appeals Court Says No Fees and Costs Reimbursement To Personal Representative From Sale Of Homestead Property

Estate planningIn Lanford v. Phemister, the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals "reversed a probate court's order permitting the personal representative fees and costs to be paid from proceeds of the sale of protected homestead property. . ." 

When Mary Lee Dillard ("Decedent") died in 2016, she left some personal property to her sister, but left the majority of her assets, including homestead real property to a testamentary trust. Decedent's sister, Billie Jo Schell was the primary beneficiary of the testamentary trust while the Kirk Family Charitable Trust was the contingent remainder beneficiary. 

Robin Phemister was appointed the personal representative of Decedent's estate as well as the trustee of the testamentary trust created in Decedent's will. 

The Florida probate court determined that "Decedent's home constituted exempt homestead property, and that constitutional homestead protections inured to Phemister, as testamentary trustee, for Schell's benefit." The Florida Probate court then authorized Phemister, as trustee, to sell the homestead property, and the property was eventually sold. 

Schell died in 2018 and the residuary of the Decedent's estate passed to the Kirk Trust. J. Scott Lanford was the trustee of the Kirk Trust. 

Phemister petitioned the court to disburse the proceeds from the homestead property's sale to pay for her fees. Lanford objected, arguing that the homestead sale proceeds could not be used to pay Phemister. The Florida probate court eventually awarded reimbursement of Phemister's costs and attorney's fees and Lanford appealed. 

The Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed the decision following the well-established law that constitutionally protected homestead property is not subject to the expenses of estate administration. 

See Florida Appeals Court Says No Fees and Costs Reimbursement To Personal Representative From Sale Of Homestead PropertyProbate Stars, April 11, 2022. 


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