In a lengthy, contentious family dispute over a will, the circuit court properly imposed sanctions against the petitioner but erred in awarding an amount in excess of attorneys’ fees actually incurred.
As the estate administrator argued below, the relevant petition for appeal under Code § 64.2-445 was frivolous, improper, and not well grounded in fact. It attempted to re-litigate the entire case that had just been litigated to finality in the circuit court, including a prayer for relief consisting of 11 requests, with the underlying goal of setting aside the original will that the circuit court had admitted to probate and reinstitution intestate distribution of the estate. The petitioner’s attacks on the circuit court’s subject-matter jurisdiction were not well-founded.
Despite the administrator’s fee affidavit for $12,480, however, the circuit court awarded $20,000 even though its order did not include language identifying sanctions beyond attorneys’ fees. Thus, this court will modify the sanctions award to $12,480 and enter final judgment for the administrator.