TRIAL BY CHECKLIST: ATTORNEY’S FEES IN AN ESTATE
March 16, 2011 § 15 Comments
A practice tip about trial factors is here.
I previously posted here about what it takes to comply with the UCCR to document your claim for attorney’s fees in an estate.
Ordinarily, attorney’s fees claims are governed by the factors in McKee v. McKee, but in an estate, the factors are slightly, but significantly, different.
In estate matters, the proper factors to consider in determining reasonable attorney’s fees are:
- The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
- The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
- The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
- The amount involved and the results obtained;
- The time limitation imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
- The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
- The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
- Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
In re Estate of Johnson v. Moore, 735 So. 2d 231, 237 (¶27) (Miss. 1999) (quoting Moreland v. Riley, 716 So. 2d 1057, 1062 (¶16) (Miss. 1998)).
In the case of Catchings v. Estate of McCullough, decided March 15, 2011, the COA reviewed a chancellor’s decision that reduced attorney’s fees in an estate. The attorney claimed $88,000 in fees in connection with a $300,000 estate, but the chancellor found that the amount of work done did not warrant that amount of fees and reduced the fee award to $36,000, based on application of the Johnson factors stated above. The COA found no abuse of discretion and upheld the chancellor’s determination.
If you have an exceptionally large claim for attorney’s fees in an estate, it would be a good idea to attach your and a fiduciary’s affidavit itemizing the time spent and addressin each of the Johnson factors.