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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?

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. 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 this information is for informational purposes only, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not intended to be the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, you should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel, and you should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Good luck. John

  2. 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 and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is <> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

  3. 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 only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mrs. Cook is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in San Diego County. She is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court. IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, please be advised that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used or relied upon, and cannot be used or relied upon, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

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