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Serving as an executor of an estate is a time-consuming and arduous task. In addition to the emotional strength required, the executor must be able to quickly digest numerous laws and responsibilities enforced by various bureaucracies and institutions. It’s a monumental task in a foreign field. Fortunately, there is help.

Along with accepting compensation for serving in the role, an executor is strongly encouraged to hire a probate attorney. An experienced probate attorney guides an executor through the process, becomes responsible for most of the difficult tasks, and helps ensure the executor satisfies all of their fiduciary responsibilities.

Probate attorney’s fees in New Jersey are paid out of the estate funds. New Jersey has not applied a statutory formula to the calculation of a probate attorney’s fees. In fact, some judges have suggested attorney’s fees based on a percentage of the estate cannot be imposed. Ultimately, in New Jersey, an appropriate estate attorney’s fee must be “reasonable” based on a multitude of factors.

Factors Used to Determine Reasonable Probate Attorney Fees in New Jersey

The factors that a judge will look at to determine whether or not an estate attorney’s fees are reasonable or unreasonable include:

  1. the amount of the estate and the amount thereof in dispute or jeopardy as to which professional services were made necessary;
  2. the nature and extent of the jeopardy or risk involved or incurred;
  3. the nature, extent, and difficulty of the services rendered;
  4. the experience and legal knowledge required, and the skill, diligence, ability and judgment shown;
  5. the time necessarily spent by the attorney in the performance of his services;
  6. the results obtained;
  7. the benefits or advantages resulting to the estate, and their importance;
  8. any special circumstances, including the standing of the attorney for integrity and skill; and
  9. the overhead expense to which the attorney has been put.

In re Bloomer’s Estate, 117 A.2d 17, 21-22 (App. Div. 1955).

As you can see, various factors influence the propriety of a probate attorney’s fees. A reasonable probate attorney’s fee should be mutually agreed to by the executor and attorney based on the division of work, nature of the estate and experience of the attorney. We will update our blog with examples of cases where probate attorney fees in New Jersey have been challenged and upheld—or reduced—as we find them!

If you have questions about probate fees in New Jersey or any other estate planning concerns contact our office for a free consultation.

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Kevin K.

I was referred to Peter after my divorce to put documents together to protect my assets. He suggested a number of documents that would help protect my children and their future. Also, he put together wills, power of attorney and living wills. I initially spoke with him on the phone, he took 30-40 minutes to understand my situation and explain the benefits of having such documents. After a week or two, I met with him in his office and signed the documents. Everything else was remote phone calls and emails. He re-explained these documents and what whom to share. I am in good hands.

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Rocco D.

I have worked with Peter Klenk & his associates for some time now and I have found them to be ultra-qualified, knowledgeable and diligent about their work. I highly recommend them.

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Sharon S.

I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link for a question regarding a will. While I was expecting only a few minutes, it was a lengthy conversation. He made sure he understood the situation by asking many questions before offering advice. He then went through my options and results of each one. He left it up to me to decide if I wanted to proceed and did not push me toward one or another. His website has very useful information which I definitely researched before I called him. While I decided not to proceed at this time, I feel I had enough information to make that decision. I would not hesitate to hire him should I need to in the future.

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Stars

Klenk Law is an exceptional practice. Their fine lawyers and staff team up to produce excellent results for their clients. They excel at explaining the often cryptic laws and policies that govern estate planning right down to the complexities of the various "trust" frameworks. Peter himself manages each client together with his great team, and he has a rare quality to be both a walking encyclopedia of planning minutia and also one of the most likable lawyers I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. He is truly generous in intellect and in his personal approach to getting the "big picture" for complex family structures. I trust him implicitly to help me make the right choices for the future. In short, Klenk Law is a gem of a firm.

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Peter J. Gutekunst, CFP®

I've worked with and known Peter Klenk and his associates for years. They are highly professional, diligent and truly experts in their field. By focusing on just wills, trusts, and estates, Klenk law has experienced every angle of estate planning and applied that knowledge to help prepare our clients with thorough and comprehensive documents.

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