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Attorneys Fees and Settlement Agreements

What does the attorneys’ fee provision say? You know, a lot of probate cases, indeed a lot of family cases come to some type of settlement. In the divorce setting or the family law setting, you often have marital settlement agreements or MSAs. In the probate, trust, guardianship setting you have settlement agreements. Many times they’re approved or approval is sought from a probate court, sometimes not.

Now, in these settlement agreements, you typically have, it’s very common to have an attorney’s fee provision. There’s two aspects of an attorney’s fee provision in a settlement agreement that you need to understand and you can read the Laux case, it was decided on March 6th, 2019 by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

There’s two things you need to know: one is who is going to pay attorneys’ fees through the date of the settlement agreement? Many times the parties say, “The trust will pay it, the estate will pay everyone’s fees or each party bears their own fees.”

The Laux case is a little different because it talked about a second issue, who is going to pay attorneys’ fees going forward, particularly, is there a prevailing party fee provision in your settlement agreement? If you have to come back to court, is there a provision in your settlement agreement for who pays whose attorneys’ fees.