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Attorney General Nessel Intervenes to Stop Adrian Attorney from Charging Excessive Fees in Administering Estate

LANSING – The Department of Attorney General recently intervened in the Estate of Loyal Ray.  Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that the Department successfully obtained orders reducing the personal representative fee charged by attorney William Benz, 74, Adrian, from $200 an hour to $75 an hour, requiring him to pay approximately $23,800.00 back to the estate’s beneficiaries.

A personal representative is a person that administers the estate of a deceased individual – martials the assets of the estate, prepares an inventory and accounts, provides notice to creditors, distributes gifts, appears in court, and takes other actions necessary to pay the estate’s creditors and distribute its assets to the decedent’s family or devisees. In administering the estate, they are entitled to reasonable compensation for their services.

While a personal representative acting reasonably for the benefit of the estate may hire an attorney to advise or assist in the administration of the estate, or to provide necessary legal services, it is often unnecessary and unreasonable for an experienced personal representative to do so. By charging an unreasonable hourly rate for personal representative services, Benz was able to syphon thousands of dollars off the Estate to the detriment of the beneficiaries including Planned Parenthood of Michigan, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the American Red Cross, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

“The improper billing practices of personal representatives who syphon tens of thousands of dollars off an estate will not be tolerated by my department,” Nessel said. “In instances such as this, we are proud to step in and ensure that an individual’s charitable gifts are distributed as they intended.”

For a detailed explanation of fiduciary and attorney compensation, see the Department of Attorney General Charitable Trust Compensation Resource. The Department of Attorney General Charitable Trust Section, P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, Michigan 48909, 517-335-7571, represents the interests of the People of the State of Michigan in the administration, operation, and disposition of charitable assets and may represent those interests in court.


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