Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you tonight.
Let's go through these.
1. Should there be an agreement between the Trustee and the Trust that outlines his fees and that he will bill at $XX and with a minimum of .10 minutes. He also refers to flat fees for certain services that I assume would need to have been agreed to in order to bill that way. Should I ask him for the contract?
Yes it is reasonable for you to request a professional services contract to act as trustee of the .....trust that either has flat fees or an hourly rate or both.That is the professional way to do this.
2. He charged a lot of money (flat rate) to draft a restatement of the trust that nobody asked for and that nobody responded to when he sent the draft out. Is that proper do grant himself work and to charge a flat fee?
It is reasonable for him to charge fees, but honestly he should provide you a written agreement with his charges here for the work to be done here in the future.
3. I found his bill to be outrageous. What typical ways are there to challenges Trustee charges?
You would look first to the trust here to see if any fees were set out for trustee.Otherwise you can deny or reduce payment and he would have to sue and prove them up in a suit here.Normally you try to resolve it here.
There is no law in MA setting trustee fees . The fees are set in accordance with the terms of the trust or in the absence of a term in the trust, in accordance with the trustee contract which you should insist on. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts set out some factors to be considered, including the size of the estate, time spent working on the estate, and the skill and ability of the fiduciary. See: McMahon v. Krapf, 323 Mass. 118 (1948). Also, in Corcoran v. Thomas, 6 Mass. App. Ct. 1990 (1978), an appellate court held that “[t]he only rule of law is that the fiduciary is to receive just and reasonable compensation for all services performed in his trust.”
He batched 6 months worth of bills in his invoice which I just received. As I told you, I don't know if he had a contract. How should I proceed given 98% of his charges are for time he already spent. Also, I am not paying him, he is simply paying himself from the trust funds.
You should make a written request for a copy of the contract.If there is no contract then ask that he sign one.And then ask for monthly bills.
This gives you a better chance to monitor and object to future bills at least.
If you can leave a positive rating it is always much appreciated.