Probate Fee Awards Are Subject To Broad Equitable Discretion By Probate Court.
Cicerone v. Kennedy, Case No. B278452 (2d Dist., Div. 6 Nov. 13, 2017) (unpublished) illustrates that probate judges are granted a large amount of discretion in awarding attorney’s fees to a trustee for a trustee’s attorney work, with the important caveats they must be reasonable in nature and must benefit the estate. (Whittlesey v. Aiello, 104 Cal.App.4th 1221, 1227 (2002).) That did not happen in Cicerone. What did happen was that an ex-trustee paid her attorney $18,231 in fees after removal and then waited months to file an accounting of what she did. The trial judge found this unreasonable, ordering her to refund the attorney’s fees paid out. The appellate court could find no abuse of discretion based on the circumstance of record, all done in a 3-0 opinion authored by Justice Yegan.