In addition, Stephan Bitterman either raised objections, or threatened to object, to items such as his mother's petition for family allowances, her continued use of an automobile titled in the decedent's name, her petition for homestead to obtain title to the home in which she was living, and her retention of certain personal property.
Howard Bitterman did not have any objections to the above items and, in fact, thought that his brother was treating his mother unfairly.
Due to the brothers' continued disagreements over the administration of the estate, Mr.
Howard Bitterman retained Pat Weidenbenner (“Weidenbenner”); Stephan Bitterman retained appellee, Boose, Casey, Ciklin, Lubitz, Martens, Mc Bane & O'Connell (“Boose, Casey”). FEES OF ADMINISTRATOR AD LITEMIn June 1992, the brothers were deadlocked with respect to the administration of the estate, and all parties agreed to the probate court's appointment of appellee, Peter Matwiczyk (“Matwiczyk”), an experienced board certified attorney, to serve as administrator ad litem.
Matwiczyk retained his law firm, Mettler & Matwiczyk, to act as his counsel in the administration of the estate.
Following his appointment, Matwiczyk met with counsel for all parties to determine each party's respective position and whether settlement was possible.
John Beranek of Ausley & Mc Mullen, Tallahassee, and Nancy Little Hoffmann, Fort Lauderdale, for Petitioners. Brown, of Henrich, Gordon, Hargrove, Weihe & James, P. Prior to that time, the compensation for both personal representatives and attorneys for personal representatives was covered by section 733.617.
Kent Brown, Fort Lauderdale, and Peter Matwiczyk and Benjamin P. Crescenzo of Boose, Casey, Ciklin, Lubitz, Martens, Mc Bane & O'Connell, West Palm Beach, for Respondents. Goldman, Naples, for The Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar, Amicus Curiae. The conflict between Bitterman and the Williams College cases arises out of the application of section 733.617, Florida Statutes (1993), a section of the Probate Code, which was amended by the legislature in 1993.
4th DCA 1996), which expressly and directly conflicts with Williams College v. 5th DCA 1995) (Williams College II ), and Williams College v. 5th DCA 1996) (Williams College III.) We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution.
The 1993 amendment created a new section, after which the compensation for personal representatives was covered by section 733.617 and the compensation for attorneys of personal representatives was covered by newly created section 733.6171.
In addition, section 733.6171(7) allowed an attorney to recover costs for the time expended by the attorney seeking reasonable compensation for his or her services on behalf of the personal representative (fees on fees). The two district courts are in conflict as to the applicability of the 1993 changes to estates which were pending at the time of the change.
Chapter 93-257, section 18, of the 1993 Laws of Florida, the act which created the amendment, states: “[T]his act shall take effect October 1, 1993, and shall be applicable to all decedents, including settlors of revokable inter vivos trusts, dying on or after that date.” Section 733.6171(8) further provides: This section shall apply to estates in which an order of discharge has not been entered prior to its effective date but not to those estates in which attorney's fees have previously been determined by order of court after notice.§ 733.6171(8), Fla. The facts of Bitterman, as stated by the district court, are as follows: Irving Bitterman died on July 21, 1991 leaving an estate in excess of one million dollars.
Pursuant to the will, Howard Bitterman and Stephan Bitterman, the decedent's sons, were appointed co-personal representatives of the estate, and were initially jointly represented by John Severson, Esq.
From the early stages, the administration of the estate was an embittered conflict among Annette Bitterman, the surviving spouse, Stephan Bitterman, and Howard Bitterman over the interpretation of certain provisions of the decedent's will.