Legal Fees For Settling An Estate???


Q: Three years ago my grandfather died and left an estate of about $600,000. (He resided in Indiana). My brother (who lives in Illinois) was the personal representative of the estate. He did all the work of identifying the assets, contacting banks and other institutions and getting all the money together, selling some stock, writing to Social Security and other places to have pensions stopped, getting in touch with the other heirs, and so on. He also consulted a lawyer, who answered questions about a personal representative's responsibilities. The lawyer also did the work of filing various papers at the court house to open the estate, and later to close the estate. My brother also consulted an accountant, who prepared and filed the estate tax returns from information provided by my brother, and also my grandfather's last personal tax return. The lawyer charged a fee of 5 percent of the estate, or approximately $30,000. The accountant's fee was $1200 for the estate tax preparation and $800 for the personal tax preparation. All these legal and accountant fees seem to me to be excessive, considering that my brother did most of the actual work. My question is: Are these fees reasonable and proper? What is so difficult about settling an estate that entitles a lawyer to five percent of its value? Any information will be much appreciated.

A: -Since your brother was the personal representive of the estate, he had the authority to do what was best for the estate. Although you were not satified with the outcome is a different story. You might have to contact an attorney. The amount in question is $32000.00. That still some over $500.000 left. That's not to bad considering your brother did all the work for the family. I would take my share and forget it. -The answer varies from state to state. Executor fees are usually set by statute as a percentage of the estate. In some states, lawyer's fees are customarily a percentage of the estate as well. You may want to speak with another local estate attorney--he or she can take a look at things and let you know if the fees were reasonable and customary.

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