By Harry S. Margolis
Several years ago, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly featured an article about a challenge to a bank's fee to act as executor in the probate of a customer's estate. Often family members fill this role, but when there is no appropriate family member or to avoid a dispute among children, some people appoint professionals. These may be lawyers, accountants, or banks. In any of these cases, clients should ask about any fees that will be charged and how they will be determined.
In the case at issue, before Fostine Todd died in 2007 at 91, she had executed an estate plan naming a bank that was later bought by TD Banknorth to act as executor of her estate and trustee of her charitable trust. She subsequently passed away, leaving an estate of approximately $5.5 million. TD Banknorth proceeded to fulfill its responsibilities, charging $88,000 for its services and paying an attorney to do the bulk of the work for $25,000.