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Court Decides if Formal Accounting Necessary


This case deals with the accounting of Leif I Rubinstein as the executor of the estate of William Gillett who is deceased. The case is being held in the Surrogates Court of Suffolk County. This is an executor’s account proceeding (estate administration) where the attorney fiducia is requesting nunc pro tunc approval for the payment that he made to himself for the legal services that he provided on behalf of the decedent’s estate. He did not have judicial authorization to make the payment. He is also seeking approval of disbursements that he made.

Case Background

Jurisdiction has been obtained over the parties for this proceeding and they have each executed waivers of service of process and have consented to granting the relief that has been requested.

A New York Probate Lawyer said in this case the spouse of the decedent is the primary beneficiary from the will and the children, grandchildren, son-in-law, and a family friend are the general legatees under her. The estate is not complicated in nature and valued at approximately $170,000. The estate consists of bank accounts and interests and there is no reason seen for the nomination of the attorney as the executor of this particular estate.

Case Discussion

The court has examined the affirmation that was submitted by the attorney. The fee that has been requested is based on 49 hours of time he spent dealing with the estate at a rate of $150 per hour. A Westchester County Probate Lawyer said while the hours spent working on the estate is a reasonable starting point to analyze an application for counsel fees, it is not the most important part of assessing the reasonableness of the amount that has been requested.

In the opinion of the court it is more significant to consider other factors such as how difficult the factors involved in this matter were, the nature of the services that were made, how involved the work was, the credibility and experience of the attorney and the results that were obtained as a result of the work.

When reviewing the work that was done by the counsel it is found that it was routine. The work included probate of the decedent’s will on waivers and consents, preparing and filing of the New York State estate tax return and gift tax returns, preparing and filing of the fiduciary report and the amended fiduciary report and the instant account proceeding on waivers.

Court Decision

The court fails to see while a formal account proceeding is needed in this case. However, when reviewing the work that the counsel has done in the matter the court sees that the counsel is requesting full commission for the work in the amount of $7821.26.

A Suffolk County Probate Lawyer the court finds this amount to be excessive and is fixing the value of the fiduciary services fee provided by the attorney to the amount of $1500. The petitioner in this case is directed to refund the estate in the amount of $5862. The lawyer must provide the court with evidence that this amount has been repaid to the estate. The disbursements that have been requested will be allowed in the full amount.

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