Surrogate Nora Anderson
The court noted the only remaining issue in this final accounting by the administrator of decedent’s estate was the fee award of the guardian ad litem (GAL). One of decedent’s sons challenged the value of the GAL’s services. The GAL was court-appointed to protect the interest of decedent’s then-minor sons. The GAL objected to the unpaid legal fees incurred by the administrator’s law firm, contending they were “excessive and unwarranted.” The GAL noted the value of his services for the proceedings totalled over $26,000, but requested the court award him compensation the court deemed “just and proper.” The court noted the GAL’s lengthy reports indicated an extensive review of the accounting, including a thorough analysis of the administrator’s tenure. They also revealed the complexity of the administration of the substantial estate, including sophisticated estate tax and valuation issues. The court concluded the GAL “performed admirably” on behalf of his wards in the “face of criticism and hostility,” and appropriately challenged the magnitude of legal fees incurred by the administrator, which resulted in reductions of those fees to the benefit of his wards. As such, the court fixed the GAL’s fee at $25,000.