(203) 268-9772

Articles of Interest

schedule a free consultation

What are Fiduciary Fees and How Much are Attorneys Entitled?

An attorney may act as a“fiduciary” in a probate matter and is entitled to fees for the services rendered in that matter. When an attorney acts as a fiduciary for another, he or she is authorized to act for the benefit of that person and is held by a high standard of care.[1] Examples of a fiduciary commonly include responsibilities such as executor, administrator, trustee, or guardian. [2]

Serving in any of these capacities entitles an attorney to a fee for his or her services. The seminal Connecticut case, Hayward v. Plant discusses the feestructure within the State, as well as the amount of a fee and restrictions onfee collections when an attorney serves as a fiduciary.[3] In Hayward, the Connecticut Supreme Court(then known as the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut) was tasked withdetermining the fee requested by several executors and trustees of a highvalued estate.[4] Due to the monetary size of the estate, familymembers contested the amount of fees that the fiduciaries requested forhandling the estate.[5] Altogether, the court found that the fees wereproper even though they were significant, given the value of the estate and thework performed.[6]

From these facts, the court set forthConnecticut’s rule governing compensation for fiduciaries in Connecticut. Thecourt found that “compensation to an executor, administrator, trustee orguardian is entitled to a reasonable compensation for his services depending onthe circumstances of the case.”[7] Becausethis standard is principled on “reasonableness,” it is therefore fact dependentbased on each probate matter and the work performed as fiduciary by theattorney.

To add more specificity, the case furtherdelineates the rule to define the term “reasonable” in reference to a feerequested by an attorney acting as fiduciary. The court found that a fee wouldbe considered “reasonable” depending on “what is fair in view of the size ofthe estate, the responsibilities involved, the character of the work required.”[8] While this standard appears very broad, itallows an attorney to collect a reasonable fee for the work that they have doneon matter without imposing any kind of binding statutory fee limit. Therefore, in instances where the attorney has put forth a significant amount of time,hours, and resources in his or her capacity as a fiduciary, compensation may bereasonably requested for that work.

On top of case law, Connecticut attorneys are also bound by the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct which hold attorneysto certain ethical standards statewide.[9] Theserules are not unique solely to when an attorney is acting as a fiduciary or even when the matter is related to probate at all. Attorneys, regardless oftheir area of practice, are bound by these rules. A failure to comply with these ethical obligations could result in a disciplinary violation for the attorney in the state. Relevant to fees, Rule 1.5 of the Connecticut Rules ofProfessional Conduct prohibits an attorney from collecting an unreasonable fee, similar to the rules for a fiduciary fee from case law as mentioned above.[10]These rules assess “reasonableness” on factors such as the time and labor required, customary fees in the area, and the nature and length of there presentation.[11]

[1] FIDUCIARY, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed.2014).

[2] CT R CJC Canon 3.

[3] Hayward v. Plant, 98 Conn. 374, 119 A. 341 (Conn. 1923).

[4] Id.



[7] Haywardv. Plant, 98 Conn. 374, 119 A.341 (Conn. 1923). CHECK ON HARD COPY

[8] Hayward v. Plant, 98 Conn. 374, 119 A. 341 (Conn. 1923). CHECK ON HARD COPY

[9] CTR RPC Rule 1.5.

[10] CTR RPC Rule 1.5(a).

[11] CTR RPC Rule 1.5(a)(1-8).

Areas we Serve

How Can We Help you?

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.