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Court Determines Appropriate Legal Fees for Probate Case


In an accounting proceeding, the court is presented with the issue of determining the amount of attorney’s fees and accounting fees to be granted to be charged against the estate of the decedent.

Decedent is a resident of Nassau County who left a will that was admitted for probate by the Surrogate’s Court of Nassau County. Letters testamentary was issued to decedent’s daughter. The decedent was survived by his seven children. The will stipulated that equal shares of the residuary estate shall be divided among the surviving children of the decedent.

The accounting proceeding is the first and final settlement of account made by the executor covering a period of four years. The summary statement submitted by the accounting party showed the amount of $955,030.92. Some of the children of decedent filed objections regarding the accounting statement. A New York Probate Lawyer said in a settlement agreement entered into by the parties, the executor reduced her commissions for payments to the objectants. The agreement also stipulated that certain estate’s tangible properties will be given to the latter.
The authority as to the determination of the attorney’s fees and accounting fees to be charged against the estate is within the sole jurisdiction of the Nassau County Surrogate Court in the probate proceeding. Said court has also the discretion as to the determination of the reasonableness of the fees and services rendered by the executor to justify such charges against the estate of decedent.

Westchester County Probate Lawyers said that several factors are taken into consideration upon grant of the court of the amount of legal fees and attorney’s fees for the legal services provided for the estate’s benefit. Based on settled court decisions, these include among others, “the time spent; the complexity of the questions involved; the nature of the services provided; the amount of litigation required; the amounts involved and the benefit resulting from the execution of such services; the lawyer’s experience and reputation; and the customary fee charged by the Bar for similar services.”

In the discharge of this duty, the court must consider all of these factors in determining the reasonableness of the fees to be paid and also taking into account the size of the estate. There is no definite rule in the proper computation of the fees considered to be reasonable in any award of fees to be charged against an estate. The court is left with the discretion of what comprises a reasonable compensation for legal service. Although said discretion must be exercised by the court with reason and proper justification.

The counsel has the burden of proof in justifying the value of the legal services they are claiming against the estate upon presentation of the necessary and pertinent documents to establish the time spent and nature of work they underwent. Legal time records indicating the amount of period spent on estate matters are considered essential in determining whether such amount of time spent is ample to cover the various tasks performed by the lawyers.

Suffolk County Probate Lawyers said that affirmations of services in relation to the estate’s probate proceeding were submitted by both former and current counsels of the firm in court. he affirmation of services contains the time spent in this matter, services performed in relation thereto, the documents and papers prepared and completed and the appearances made in court by counsels.

The accountant also submitted an affidavit of accounting services, which include the number of hours spent in preparing the accounting; the services rendered; and preparation of related schedules and reports.

The court fixed the fees accordingly upon consideration of all of the factors used in determining the reasonableness of fees.

Legal services performed by counsels in a probate proceeding involve great amount of time and require legal expertise. Here at Stephen Bilkis and Associates, we can assure you that you will get efficient and effective performance from our Nassau County Estate Administration Lawyers for the amount of compensation that you will pay for the services they shall render in your behalf.

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