ARS 14-3720 Interpretation

14-3720 does not explicitly require a benefit to the estate, Arizona case law construing the statute seems to impose this requirement. In Matter of Stephens Estate, 117 Ariz. 579, 585, 574 P.2d 67, 73 (App. 1978), the Court construed a request for reimbursement under 14-3720 and found that "the only circumstances under which the personal representative may be reimbursed for her attorney's fees is if services rendered by her attorney benefitted the estate." In Matter of Estes Estate, 134 Ariz. 70, 80, 654 P.2d 4, 14 (App. 1982), the Court relied on Stephens in holding that "an executor is entitled to reimbursement for attorneys' fees only for services rendered to benefit the estate, not if the services were rendered to protect the executor's personal interests." Matter of Killen's Estate, 188 Ariz. 569, 937 P.2d 1375 (App. 1996) involved a dispute over attorneys' fees incurred in a will contest. Before addressing the principal issue, the Court commented that the benefit to the estate requirement was met because defense of a will against a charge of invalidity due to lack of testamentary capacity automatically benefits the estate. Id. at 575, 937 P.2d at 1381. Thus it was not necessary for the personal representative to independently prove, or the probate court to specifically find, that the estate was benefitted by the defense. Id.