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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Estate and Probate Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1975
Experience:  Thirteen years of experience in probate, trusts, wills, and medicaid planning
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My father died 2 years ago. I was the benificiary and trustee

Customer Question

My father died 2 years ago. I was the benificiary and trustee of the estate. I have one other brother who received half of the estate.
My attorney, received her statutory fees last year and I received my trustee fees. The probate was left open for one year with 30,000 dollars for any oustanding tax issues.
At the last hearing a month ago, I received 12,500 and my brother received 12,500. The remaining 5,000 was left in the estate to pay her legal fees pertaining to the estate.
Question. My attorney received her statutory fees as mandated by the court. Now she asked and received an additional 5,000. The court has still not discharged me as trustee. Did the attorney violate the probate code by billing,and receiving the additional 5,000 dollars last month?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question.There is probably no violation of the CA Probate Code for billing beyond statutory fees WHEN there are unusual circumstances leading to more than the typical amount of legal work. Though I cannot tell about your specific situation without reviewing the court paperwork (and maybe violating the Terms of Service here), the biggest clue is your mention of "tax issues". That is usually such a mess that few judges will try to second-guess the request for more fees--especially after another year has passed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

can the attorney just bill me, or does she have to get the courts/ judges permission to do so as mandated by the California probate code?

Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 2 years ago.
Not unless it is for something beyond the fee agreement and therefore beyond the reach of the Probate Code and the judge.

Your earlier post about asking for and being granted an additional $5k of fees makes me suspect that the additional fees were legitimate. Either that, or the attorney duped the judge. Probate courts are so polite in my experience, something needs to be really beyond the norm to even raise the judge's eyebrows.

One thing to watch for: your cell phone says you talked for 10 minutes and the attorney billed you for 30. Some fudge-up of ONLY six minutes, 0.1 hour, is probably okay for any phone call because it take a little while to check the file for what to talk about and look up the number and then re-dial it or dial the client's other number and all that time-consuming minor stuff before the talking actually begins. But no more than that.

Thank you.

BAB.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The additional attorney fees were not submitted to the judge , just presented to the judge as administrative fees of the estate. After I paid her the additional fee of 5,000 (presented as administrative), the examiner disallowed the 5,000 charge, per his directive.Now she's having me distribute half of the 5,000 to my brother, making me sign that I received the 2,500 and charging me personally for her 5,000 dollar legal fee. Is this allowed and legal? Any recourse? Did I get screwed?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Please answer follow up question

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Please respond to my follow up question so that I may give you the credit you dederve