Bill worsens excessive probate fee, says lawyer
July 8, 2013
Exorbitant fees and charges levied by California court-appointed conservators and trustees — routinely sanctioned by judges — remains uncorrected despite pending legislation designed to change existing law, according to an attorney whose client initially prompted lawmakers’ attention. (San Jose Mercury News)
The attorney, Matt Crosby, has withdrawn his support for Senate Bill 156, now headed for the governor’s signature.
The bill evolved from a long series of news articles in the Mercury News detailing the financial fleecing of estates by probate-court-appointed managers and their attorneys. In many instances, the victims of these inflated charges are the elderly and infirm.
Crosby said changes made in the bill as “concessions” to lobbyists for lawyers and fiduciaries made the bill “a feel-good” exercise that probably has exacerbated the situation.
Crosby represented Danny Reed pro bono. Reed is a 38-year-old San Jose man who suffered brain damage after being struck by two cars.
His court-appointed trustee, Thomas Thorpe, billed Reed’s estate $108,771 after 4 1/2 months of work. Reed retained counsel, an action which then allowed Thorpe to initiate a “fee-on-fee” — using Reed’s own money to successfully fight the injured man in court.