July 27, 2017

Probate Attorney Fees - Extraordinary Compensation

When an attorney handles a probate, they may be entitled to two methods of payment from the estate, ordinary compensation and extraordinary compensation. This is also known as ordinary fees and extraordinary fees.

Ordinary compensation is rather straight-forward as it utilizes a set formula for determining the fee. The formula is based off the estate's value. Below reflects ordinary compensation in intervals of $100,000 up to $1M.

Estate Value            Statutory Fee 

$100,000                   $4,000 

$200,000                   $7,000 

$300,000                   $9,000 

$400,000                   $11,000 

$500,000                   $13,000 

$600,000                   $15,000 

$700,000                   $17,000 

$800,000                   $19,000 

$900,000                   $21,000 

$1,000,000                $23,000 

Extraordinary compensation is awarded to the attorney for services rendered that fall outside the scope of a regular probate. For example, extraordinary fees are merited for “legal services in connection with the sale of property held in the estate.” See CRC 7.703(c)(1). The most common example of this is the sale of the decedent's house. 

At probate's conclusion, i.e. the petition for final distribution, the attorney will attach a declaration specifying what extraordinary services have been rendered and the amount of their requested compensation. Although the probate court ultimately decides if the requested fee is "just and reasonable" so as to permit payment of it. Estate of Trynin (1989) 49 Cal.3d 868, 873. In particular, a probate court may reduce the amount the attorney ultimately receives as extraordinary compensation. A recent unpublished appellate opinion illustrated this point.

The executors' former attorney sought $273,010 in extraordinary fees. A beneficiary then objected to this amount. Following three hearings, the probate court reduced the awarding of extraordinary fees to $109,697.      

On appeal, the decision of the trial court to award $109,697 in extraordinary fees was upheld. 

Quint v. King, San Diego County Superior Court Case # P190541.