IN RE ESTATE OF LOIS CULP - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on Nov 17, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

James Y. Ross, Sr., Waynesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dianne Rich, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Lois Culp.

Attorneys 2:

Alexander D. Camp and David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donnie Culp.

Judge(s): SUSANO

This case deals with the issue of whether a personal representative of an estate can obtain additional attorney’s fees incurred in connection with an appeal-an appeal that occurred after the personal representative had disbursed all the estate funds other than those belonging to the estate beneficiary who pursued the appeal. That individual-Donnie Culp (Culp)-appealed the sale of his late mother’s real and personal property by Dianne Rich (the personal representative), executor of his late mother’s estate. Prior to Culp’s appeal, the personal representative obtained a court order closing the estate and awarding her $43,256.37 in attorney’s fees. These attorney’s fees included an estimated 40 hours for an appeal. After paying all estate debts, including her compensation and attorney’s fees, the personal representative disbursed all remaining estate funds, other than Culp’s share, to the other beneficiaries. The personal representative now seeks $17,500 in additional attorney’s fees for the over 70 hours that her attorney spent on the appeal. The trial court denied the personal representative’s request for additional attorney’s fees, holding that it would be inappropriate to award them to her out of Culp’s share of the estate. The court noted that the personal representative should have raised the issue before distributing the rest of the estate. We hold that the personal representative’s attorney was fully compensated by the initial award of attorney’s fees for her attorney’s services on appeal. We further hold that no estate funds remain from which the personal representative could obtain additional attorney’s fees because she distributed all funds other than Culp’s share. Additionally,we hold that Culp lacks standing to ask this Court to determine whether the personal representative should be individually liable for her attorney’s fees. The personal representative appeals. We affirm.

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