I am a beneficiary of a will that is in Connecticut Probate Court. The estate, before legal fees, burial, taxes, etc. was valued at $500,000 & consists of just 1 bank account. No real estate, personal belongings, etc.. Very streamlined. I just received paperwork, regarding the fee that the executor is requesting. What is a reasonable fee for the executor to request? Also, what is the the procedure to contest the fee requested? There is an upcoming court hearing, which I cannot attend, to approve this request. Also, is the fee granted or negotiated at this hearing, or is there a process involved which could delay the estate being settled. FYI, 3 of the 6 beneficiaries believe the requested fee is outrageous. Thank you for any advice on this matter.
1 Answer from Attorneys
A fee of 2% of the gross taxable estate is fairly normal. (If you sell your house, 5%-6% fee to a realtor is common, after all). However, most probate judges will require the fiduciary to provide some time sheets to justify a fee. Merely because the estate consists of a single bank account doesn't mean there wasn't a fair amount of work to be done. The fiduciary still had to file an inventory, a Return and List of Claims, a CT706NT (the Connecticut estate tax return) and a final financial report. There may have been more forms to file. There may have been investigations about claims against the estate, or negotiations with creditors. Who took care of the funeral arrangements? Who disposed of the decedent's belongings? The fiduciary has also been dealing with 6 heirs, which can be time consuming. I just finished up an estate where I was the fiduciary. There were 3 heirs. None of the heirs lifted a finger to attend to those things that needed attention. I made all the funeral arrangements, I emptied out the decadent's condo. I negotiated all the claims from creditors (credit cards, medical bills, etc.). The heirs were very happy to get their inheritance, but weren't interested in helping out, which is fine, but when they left it up to me, it took time, and I charged for it. You can certainly write to the judge (if you can't make the hearing) and say that you are concerned about the size of the fiduciary's bill and would like some justification for the fee. The judge will probably instruct the fiduciary to give a time sheet. If this report by the fiduciary is "streamlined", that is, you received a notice from the court that the report will be approved by such-and-such a date, unless somebody objects, then be sure to have your objection sent to the court in a timely fashion.