The Marvin and Kay Lichtman Foundation (herein, the Foundation), beneficiary of the Marvin Lichtman Living Trust (herein, the Trust), appeals the awards made to the two personal representatives of the estate of Marvin Lichtman, the awards made to the same two persons acting as trustees for the Trust, and the award made to the attorney who acted as counsel for the trustees. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
Marvin Lichtman and Kay Lichtman were murdered on January 23, 1996, and their Illinois home was burned to the ground. The couple's murder was the subject of an extensive criminal investigation and national media coverage. Pursuant to the provisions of Mr. Lichtman's Will and his Trust, June Hood and Edward Hammatt were appointed trustees of the Trust and co-personal representatives of Mr. Lichtman's estate.
According to the personal representatives, because of the circumstances of Mr. Lichtman's death, they were immediately confronted with numerous issues including the recovery of insurance proceeds, and cooperating in the murder investigation. The fiduciaries and their counsel also contended with national media coverage. Loss of financial records in the fire required Hood, Hammatt and their counsel, Sol Stiss, to reconstruct the affairs of Mr. Lichtman. Testimony was presented to the trial court on the issues facing the trustees/co-personal representatives and their resolution of these issues.
Simultaneously, Hood and Hammatt, in their capacities as trustees, served their interim accounting. It was thereafter that the Foundation served its Beneficiary's Objection to Petition for Discharge and Final Accounting and Objection to compensation. These objections addressed the accountings of the personal representatives as well as interim accounting of the trustees. The objections to both accountings were heard by the trial judge.
The fees of the personal representatives and their attorney, Stiss, were calculated pursuant to sections 733.617 and 733.6171 Florida Statutes (1999). Hood and Hammatt were awarded $82,407.85 each for their services as personal representatives. The Foundation contended that this award is improper and argued that section 733.617(5)
We find no merit to the Foundation's claim that an award of a full fee to each personal representative violated the beneficiary's right to due process or equal protection. The legislature has the authority to create classifications based upon financial resources for the amount involved in a transaction. See Reserve Insurance Co. v. Gulf Florida Terminal Co., 386 So.2d 550 (Fla.1980). The Foundation was afforded notice and opportunity to be heard as provided by the statute. See § 733.617(7)Fla. Stat. (1999)
Accordingly, we affirm the fees awarded the personal representatives and vacate the awards to the trustees, as well as the attorney acting for the trustees. We remand for reconstruction of the record to afford a sufficient breakdown and allocation and apportionment of the work done in relation to the dual functions performed, so that we, as the reviewing body, can ascertain if there has been an error. See Dhondy v. Schimpeler, 528 So.2d 484 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988)(ordering remand where fee could not be properly assessed based wholly on a conclusory affidavit).
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
The nieces also entered Mr. Lichtman's Illinois safe deposit box and removed its contents, requiring the initiation of proceedings to recover the property. The nieces contended that they were entitled to eighty-five percent (85%) of the $1,409,000.00 recovered by the fiduciaries for the loss of the contents of the destroyed home. Hood and Hammatt vigorously disputed this contention, prompting the insurer to threaten to interplead the funds. Proceedings were then commenced by the fiduciaries against Higgason to compel production of information relating to the claimed interest. Higgason filed a federal estate tax return that was inconsistent with Mr. Lichtman's estate tax return and which according to the personal representative economically prejudiced the Trust, which if upheld, would have lost approximately $1,700,000. Ultimately, the disputes with Higgason were resolved.