Charlie complained about the fees charged in the administration of his mother’s estate by the appointed professional trustee. Charlie also complained she was not provided with a response when she queried the fees. Charlie sought a refund of any excess fees charged. When the trustee refused to refund fees, Charlie complained to FSCL.
The trustee advised that it no longer wanted to act as Charlie’s trustee as there was a relationship breakdown. The trustee provided FSCL with the estate’s file and explained a fair amount of work been done by the senior trustee over the years. The senior trustee responsible had completed a full review of all charges and believed the fees were a true and accurate reflection of the work that had been performed.
We found that for several of the disputed fees, the trustee was unable to provide adequate evidence or an explanation for the fees charged. We also questioned the reasonableness of some of the fee charges. These fees totalled approximately $4,000.
We recommended that the trustee refund the fees, or provide an adequate explanation. The trustee made an offer of settlement of $3000 which was accepted by Charlie.
Trustees are required to keep and maintain adequate records of any fees charged for their services. These fees should be reasonable and justifiable. Trustees should ensure that fee structures are transparent and the beneficiaries are aware of the fees charged to the estate.
Information about the fees charged should be understandable and readily accessible.