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Friday, May 24, 2013

Can an Attorney for an Estate who is also an Executor Double Dip?

I am frequently asked whether an attorney who is acting as an executor for an estate can receive both an executor's commission and legal fees for representing the estate.  Although this may sound like a conflict of interest, the short answer in New Jersey is yes, it is specifically allowed under New Jersey Statute 3B:18-6. 

As a practical matter, the attorney's fees are also subject to guidelines as to reasonableness. Unlike Pennsylvania and Florida, were it is common practice to charge a legal fee which is a percentage of the estate, in New Jersey, it is far more common to charge an hourly rate.  So, if an attorney charges a fixed fee, and there was not a lot of legal time involved, a court could reduce the attorney fee. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Estate Administration Comedy

In the spirit of the great film, Brewster's Millions, Fox TV has come out with a new comedy called The Goodwin Games.  You can see the first episode on Hulu if you want.  I'm always a sucker for wacky Will scenarios, and this seems to fit right in.  It appears to be about a father who is trying to get his family together after he dies by making them fight over his fortune. The father set up a series of games for the children to play, and the winner gets the full inheritance.

Most likely it will turn out to be a nice twist on the traditional estate litigation that people often encounter in that instead of fighting it out in court, the heirs have to compete in various children's games (as well as get their lives in order) to be able to inherit anything at all.