What to do if I do not agree with attorney fee from final accounting in estate. What rights do I have or do I just sign it?

Asked over 1 year ago - Erie, PA

I think the estate has been overcharged thus reducing my inheritance. What to do? If I do not sign it does that make the estate costs go up do to the estate not being settled? The lawyer is not giving the other beneficiary his last distribution until he gets my signed "family settlement agreement". But I do not feel as though I am obligated to sign something I do not agree with. How much should an estate worth $198k be charged for executor fee for two people. The lawyer is taking half of the executor fee and his attorney fee for the time spent. I have an email from him saying he was only going to take on of those. What to do?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. John B. Whalen Jr.


    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Hello ...

    My condolences on your situation - between a rock and a hard place ...

    I have dealt with this situation many, many times in the last 22 years (not having my fees questioned, but in advising those in your exact predicament) ...

    Without knowing a few more pieces of information, I can only tell you that the procedure of what is happening (not disbursing distributions until everyone signs off) is par for the course ...

    Also, without knowing more, I can only tell you that your situation is rather common (someone disagreeing with a charge or an expense or a fee or a commission, but not knowing what to do ...

    Most of the time, the situation is very easily rectified - it is amazing what a neutral and calm discussion and review can do. Perhaps it is just understanding the situation and being satisfied or perhaps it is quite the opposite. Either way, you will know what to do and what to expect. If the Attorney/Executor can not give you that answer (which they really cannot because of the inherent doubt in your question here), a neutral 3rd party can ...

    Let me know if you need anything further ...

    Good luck ...

    John ...

    Although we invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail, please remember that... more
  2. Steven J. Fromm

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . His overall fee must be reasonable. In addition the reasonable executor fee must be reasonable and must be split between the persons serving. They each do not get the full fee. Having said that you need to get your own estates attorney to review the situation to see if the overall fee is reasonable. After a review, then you either accept it and sign off or contest the fee in orphans court. Either way you need an estates attorney to assist you.

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia... more
  3. Amanda Marie Cook

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You can speak with an attorney regarding the fees. You can also speak with THE attorney regarding their fees. In California, probate fees are statutory so a $200k estate would be $7,000 for each the attorney and the executor ($14k total). In many states that is not the case. Usually fees need to be approved by the court as to their reasonableness as well.

    It is typical to hold distributions until everything is approved and all paperwork is in order. It is difficult to get beneficiaries to cooperate after they have received their money. Lawyers are not free, though, and the choice of attorney is typically at the discretion of the executor. You should consider how much you believe you can save and whether it's worth it.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can... more

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