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03/30/88 In Re Estate of Russell Marshall

March 30, 1988

IN RE ESTATE OF RUSSELL MARSHALL, DECEASED (MABELLE VEATCH,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

Ex'r, Petitioner-Appellant, v.

Estate of Russell Marshall, Respondent-Appellee)

521 N.E.2d 637, 167 Ill. App. 3d 549, 118 Ill. Dec. 355 1988.IL.455

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Woodford County; the Hon. Richard M. Baner, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN, P.J., and KNECHT, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

This appeal stems from the circuit court's award of executor and attorney fees for services rendered in the probate of the estate of Russell Marshall. Mabelle Veatch was named executor under the terms of the will of Marshall. In her capacity as executor, Veatch retained the law firm of Pioletti & Pioletti (Pioletti) and then subsequently Sutkowski & Washkuhn (Sutkowski) to perform necessary legal services. The court authorized payment of executor fees and attorney fees in amounts which were significantly less than requested. Following reconsideration of the order and affirmance of the amounts authorized, Veatch and Sutkowski appeal the circuit court's award of fees.

The petitioner maintains the orders authorizing fees: (1) were the result of a misapplication of the law; and (2) failed to consider that the beneficiaries consented to fees as originally requested.

We affirm.

Russell Marshall died testate on July 11, 1983. His estate, as valued for Federal income tax purposes, amounted to approximately $800,000. On August 15, 1983, Mabelle Veatch was appointed executor pursuant to the terms of the will. On August 23, 1983, Veatch retained Pioletti to perform legal services, paying an initial fee of $3,000.

Pioletti opened the estate, prepared an affidavit declaring heirship for approximately 61 heirs, and filed an inventory of assets. On November 29, 1983, Veatch terminated Pioletti's services. Pioletti submitted a bill for legal services in the amount of $5,621.10. An offset of the $3,000 retainer paid resulted in an outstanding balance due of $2,621.10.

Evidence indicated that Veatch had previously served as executrix of the estate of Russell Marshall's brother, Ralph Marshall, also with the legal assistance of Pioletti. Ralph had died on April 19, 1981, leaving Russell as the only heir to his $300,000 estate. Final distribution was made to Russell, and the estate was closed by order of discharge on August 4, 1983. After the discharge, an additional $3,959.80 for the administration of Ralph's estate was paid, without prior court authorization, from the estate of Russell Marshall. Veatch received $1,500 of that amount and the balance of $2,459.80 was paid to Pioletti.

After the termination of Pioletti's service to the Russell Marshall estate, Veatch hired Sutkowski effective November 29, 1983.

Three accountings were tendered to the court during the administration of the estate. The first covered the period from July 11, 1983, through May 17, 1984, ...


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