Florida Senate - 2013                                     SB 590
       By Senator Joyner
       19-00227A-13                                           2013590__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to fees and costs incurred in
    3         guardianship proceedings; amending s. 744.108, F.S.;
    4         providing that fees and costs incurred by an attorney
    5         who has rendered services to a ward in compensation
    6         proceedings are payable from guardianship assets;
    7         providing that expert testimony is unnecessary in
    8         proceedings to determine compensation for an attorney
    9         or guardian; amending s. 744.3025, F.S.; providing
   10         that a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to a
   11         minor if necessary to protect the minor’s interests in
   12         a settlement; providing that a settlement of a minor’s
   13         claim is subject to certain confidentiality
   14         provisions; amending s. 744.331, F.S.; directing that
   15         the examining committee be paid from state funds as
   16         court-appointed expert witnesses if a petition for
   17         incapacity is dismissed; requiring that a petitioner
   18         reimburse the state for expert witness fees if the
   19         court finds the petition to have been filed in bad
   20         faith; providing an effective date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Subsection (8) of section 744.108, Florida
   25  Statutes, is amended, and subsection (9) is added to that
   26  section, to read:
   27         744.108 Guardian’s and attorney’s fees and expenses.—
   28         (8) When court proceedings are instituted to review or
   29  determine a guardian’s or an attorney’s fees under subsection
   30  (2), such proceedings are part of the guardianship
   31  administration process and the costs, including costs and
   32  attorney fees for the guardian’s attorney, an attorney appointed
   33  under subsection (2) of s. 744.331, or an attorney who rendered
   34  services to the ward, shall be determined by the court and paid
   35  from the assets of the guardianship estate unless the court
   36  finds the requested compensation under subsection (2) to be
   37  substantially unreasonable.
   38         (9) The court may determine reasonable compensation for the
   39  guardian, the guardian’s attorney, a person employed by the
   40  guardian, an attorney appointed under subsection (2) of s.
   41  744.331, or an attorney who has rendered services to the ward
   42  without receiving expert testimony. Any person or party may
   43  offer expert testimony after giving notice to interested
   44  persons. If expert testimony is offered, a reasonable expert
   45  witness fee shall be awarded by the court and paid from the
   46  assets of the guardianship estate.
   47         Section 2. Section 744.3025, Florida Statutes, is amended
   48  to read:
   49         744.3025 Claims of minors.—
   50         (1)(a) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to
   51  represent the minor’s interest before approving a settlement of
   52  the minor’s portion of the claim in any case in which a minor
   53  has a claim for personal injury, property damage, wrongful
   54  death, or other cause of action in which the gross settlement of
   55  the claim exceeds $15,000 if the court believes a guardian ad
   56  litem is necessary to protect the interests of the minor.
   57         (b) Except as provided in paragraph (e), the court shall
   58  appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor’s interest
   59  before approving a settlement of the minor’s claim in any case
   60  in which the gross settlement involving a minor equals or
   61  exceeds $50,000.
   62         (c) The appointment of the guardian ad litem must be
   63  without the necessity of bond or notice.
   64         (d) The duty of the guardian ad litem is to protect the
   65  minor’s interests as described in the Florida Probate Rules.
   66         (e) A court need not appoint a guardian ad litem for the
   67  minor if a guardian of the minor has previously been appointed
   68  and that guardian has no potential adverse interest to the
   69  minor. A court may appoint a guardian ad litem if the court
   70  believes a guardian ad litem is necessary to protect the
   71  interests of the minor.
   72         (2) Unless waived, the court shall award reasonable fees
   73  and costs to the guardian ad litem to be paid out of the gross
   74  proceeds of the settlement.
   75         (3) Any settlement of a claim pursuant to this section is
   76  subject to the confidentiality provisions of this chapter.
   77         Section 3. Paragraph (c) of subsection (7) of section
   78  744.331, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   79         744.331 Procedures to determine incapacity.—
   80         (7) FEES.—
   81         (c) If the petition is dismissed:,
   82         1. The fees of the examining committee shall be paid upon
   83  court order as expert witness fees under s. 29.004(6).
   84         2. Costs and attorney attorney’s fees of the proceeding may
   85  be assessed against the petitioner if the court finds the
   86  petition to have been filed in bad faith. If the court finds bad
   87  faith under this subparagraph, the petitioner shall reimburse
   88  the state courts system for any amounts paid under subparagraph
   89  1.
   90         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming law and
   91  shall apply to all proceedings pending on that date.