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An attorney probated a relative’s estate (intestate) which was less than $90,000. The amount he billed was over $25,000 of which $14,000 was hidden in the sale of the property. Two of the bills he presented to the court covered the same time period, but had different billing items on them (many on the same day). One was presented to the court for payment (and he was paid) and the other was presented at the time of the closing of the house and he was paid out of the proceeds (the $14,000). Is it custom for this to happen?? What legal ramifications do we have?
Asked on May 17, 2009 under Estate Planning, Ohio
FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 11 years ago | Contributor
At first blush it seems excessive, but we have no idea what the facts and circumstances were. Further, acting as the lawyer for the sale of property is something separate from handling the estate.
Also, be aware that the legal fees on a home sale are often based on the total value of the property -- without deducting the mortgage. So if the house was worth $500,000 and there was a $450,000 mortgage, the fee is based on the $500,000 not the $50,000.
Speak to a lawyer, see if there was anything inappropriate, and if so, then make a demand for a return of fees.
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