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Estate Executor Brings Action for Lack of Payment


This is not really estate litigation as it is a case involving the commission/fees of a person who was assigned to perform the accounting of the wealth of a decedent. It all started when a wealthy individual commissioned a lawyer-friend to write his will and named the said lawyer together with another close friend as executors of the properties and money left once he is gone. The rich man died at the age of 91 and survived by his wife. He had by that time amassed a huge amount of money and properties. The testator bequeathed to his widow their home and a $5M trust fund. When all the bequeaths for family and friends were satisfied, he instructed in the will to give the rest of his wealth to charity naming in particular a school, a hospital and a foundation.

In the will, there was a provision that the executors will be entitled to a payment of $400,000 each and this is meant to cover the work that is involved in carrying their duties as such. The executors entered in the performance of their duties by filing and requesting for letters testamentary from the court. A New York Probate Lawyer said the court granted the request and the executors started with their duties. One of the executor, a close friend of the testator realized that the job involved will require more than the usual. This is because of the vastness of the wealth left by the decedent which was around $250M and the complexities involved in process of estate accounting of the various bequeaths stated in the will as well as the grants given to various organizations.

In view of this, the said executor filed a summary proceeding in the court to request that his fees/commissions be increased from the originally stated $400,000 stated in the will, to the amount of $5M which is based on statutory provisions. He later on reduced his claim to a little over $2M. The beneficiaries timely opposed the motion and filed their opposition thereto arguing that since the will specifically stated the mounts that will be paid to the executors once the probate proceedings start, the same should be given effect. They further contended that since the executor did not question the provision of the will concerning the fees to be paid to them, that he is now estopped from questioning the same. Long Island Probate Lawyers said they also noted that there was even a proviso in the will that should the assigned executors find the task too difficult for them, that a company be made the executor to take their place.

The executor countered that he cannot be estopped from asking for the right statutory commission for an executor because he did not execute in writing that he agreed to the estate administration with the given meagre amount and that he entered in the duty of being an executor in compliance to the will executed by the testator and he also did not know that the same will involve such a huge undertaking. That though there is no will contest involved, the duties required is still difficult due to the works that needed to be done. Also, his act of entering into the duties of an executor cannot be construed as having also surrendered his right to the statutory right to receive the right amount for his services.

In striking down the motion for summary judgment, the court ruled that the said executor has only two options under the circumstances. Manhattan Probate Lawyers said that is to perform his duties under the provisions of the will with the given amount as specified or to resign and let the alternative executor company take his place. The court found no merit to the contention of the executor that he did not agree to the terms of payment as indicated in the will. The court further declared that by the executor’s acts, he has already validated his agreement to the provisions of the will with regards to his payment. This could be seen from the signatures that he affixed during the proceedings even though it is not particularly about his fees.

The interpretation of the will of a deceased person requires legal expertise and to this, a skilled lawyer can help any party who encounters an issue about the interpretation of any will. When the distribution of the properties of a deceased person requires the determination of the court, there is also a need to engage the services of a qualified lawyer. Stephen Bilkis and Associates is a law office that has expertise in both fields and anything that relates to wills and succession. They have been in this field for quite some time and they know how to effectively protect your interests.

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