Any estate fees and expenses, including those of the estate attorney, should come out of the estate, not out of your own pocket. With that said, when an estate is illiquid, the attorney and the executor may agree that the executor will be personally liable for attorney's fees rather than having the executor sell off estate assets. Such an agreement (which is typically done when the executor is the sole beneficiary) must be set forth in writing and should be done at the beginning of the estate administration. Good luck to you.
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In the end, attorney's and other professional fees required to administer the estate are paid for with estate assets. However, in many instances, the funds are not available at the outset and most attorneys will not commence working without a retainer. In those instances, the Executor (or other interested party) may "front" the money and then be repaid with estate funds when possible.
In case you were wondering. The reason that this is an estate expense is because the attorney while working WITH the Executor is working FOR the Estate. Since the attorney's services benefit all of the Legatees under the Will.
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The other attorneys are correct - these are expenses of the estate. Think about it, why would any one agree to serve as executor (especially if they are not a beneficiary) if they had to pay their own money to do it?
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/