2011: San Diego Trust Administration, Probate and Conservatorship: What You Need to Know About Attorney Fees

In San Diego, many people inquiring about trust administration, probate and conservatorship ask what the proper fees can be charged by an attorney. Legal fees are best discussed with the attorney before you hire and our firm wants to be transparent in the billing procedure. Our goal is to exceed your expectations with both legal fees and legal services. Conservatorships, probate and trust administration can be difficult and also very emotional to family members.

An administrator or executor of an estate is paid statutory fees. These are the fees set by the San Diego probate code and are a set percentage based on the value of the estate. The administrator or executor can also be paid extraordinary fees for additional services that are not normal in a probate such as management of a business or litigation involving the estate. The extraordinary fees must be approved by the San Diego probate court and are usually based upon an hourly fee. The hourly fee can vary depending upon the knowledge and expertise of the administrator or executor.

In Trust Administration, there is not a set amount that the trustee can be paid for their work as the trustee. The trust itself can specify the trustee fees; however, a trust does not typically lay out the exact amount of fees. In the absence of any provision in the trust regarding trustee fees, the Probate Code says that the Trustee can charge a “reasonable” fee. A reasonable fee can vary depending on the complexity of the trust, the amount of work involved and even the geographic location of the administration. A trust administration is usually not supervised by the court but if there is a dispute regarding trustee fees then it would be resolved by the probate court. A reasonable trustee fee can be based on a percentage of the value of the estate or on an hourly fee basis. Typically a trustee fee of 1% of the value of the trust estate per year will be considered a reasonable fee. As for the hourly rate it can vary depending on the training and expertise of the trustee.

In Conservatorship matters, all fees must be approved by the San Diego probate court. The Conservator must file a fee declaration specifying the work performed and the hours spent as well as the benefit to the conservatorship. For this reason, Conservator’s fees are usually based on a reasonable hourly rate.

If you have a trust administration, conservatorship or probate matter in San Diego, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary and confidential consultation. We will discuss strategies and techniques to protect your rights as well as legal fees.

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