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Issues Affecting the Trust Fiduciary and Reasonable Compensation

(521 reviews)

Produced on May 08, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h 32m
Difficulty Advanced
Topics covered in this course: Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Course Description

This course identifies some of the responsibilities of an executor and trustee and address the meaning of the term “reasonable compensation” when applied to the fees payable to the estate executor as discussed in case law as well as well-recognized treatises and commentary, and as viewed by New York courts, which have yet to definitively address the issue. The first part of the course explores some of these duties and areas of potential exposure, including (i) the fiduciary’s potential personal liability for the decedent’s/grantor’s unpaid taxes; (ii) conflicts of interest arising when the estate or trust owns an interest in a closely-held business; (iii) the trustee’s duty to keep beneficiaries informed about the trust’s existence and its administration; and (iv) requirements for investing estate and trust assets.

Too often, clients (and sometimes, their lawyers) accept appointment as executor or trustee without first considering the various duties associated with being a fiduciary, and without realizing the potential for personal liability. The second part of the course addresses these and related issues. Led by attorneys Ilene Cooper and Joseph La Ferlita, the program is designed to educate the estate practitioner and will serve as valuable instruction for draftspersons who are considering including a direction for reasonable compensation in testamentary documents, particularly in states where that term has not yet been clearly defined.  

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Identify areas of potential liability associated with the decedent’s/grantor’s unpaid tax debts and recognize the conflicts of interest that could exist when the estate or trust owns an interest in a business, particularly when the estate or trust owns a controlling interest
  2. Appreciate the trustee’s duty to keep the beneficiaries appropriately informed about the existence of the trust and the basic aspects of its administration
  3. Grasp the investment requirements imposed on executors and trustees, including the duty to diversify assets
  4. Understand “reasonable compensation”
  5. Identify issues one may encounter when including a direction for reasonable compensation in testamentary documents
  6. Recognize the differences between the Federal treatises and state courts that have yet to address the issue definitively 

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Ilene Sherwyn Cooper

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Ilene Sherwyn Cooper is an estate litigator practicing in Surrogate’s Courts throughout New York and the author of several legislative amendments affecting the laws of inheritance in New York. She has extensive experience administering decedents’ estates, drafting and executing wills and trust instruments, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies and living wills. Previously, she worked as a Principal Law Assistant/Referee for the Surrogate of Suffolk County, Hon. Ernest L. Signorelli.

Ilene has held leadership roles with many state and local professional and community organizations. This includes serving as chair of the New York State Bar Association’s 5,000+ member Trust and Estates Law Section, as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates, as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, and as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Council (ACTEC). She is also an adjunct professor at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, where she has been recognized as Adjunct Professor of the Year multiple times. Ilene published the textbook Wills, Trusts and Estates – Essential Tools for the New York Paralegal and is a columnist on trusts and estates practice for the New York Law Journal and an editor of Warren’s Heaton on Surrogate’s Court Practice.

Ilene drafted an amendment to EPTL 5-3.2, increasing inheritance rights of nonmarital children; co-drafted with members of the NYSBA’s Trust and Estates Law Section an amendment to SCPA 2307-a dealing with attorney-fiduciaries; and was instrumental in initiating and spearheading an amendment to SPCA 2211, which provides for discovery prior to the filing of objections in contested accounting proceedings. Ilene also drafted the legislation that disqualifies abusive parents whose rights have been terminated under Social Services Law from receiving an inheritance from the abused child’s estate.

Joseph T. La Ferlita

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Joseph T. La Ferlita focuses his practice on estate planning and the administration of estates and trusts. Joseph counsels individuals planning their estates, beneficiaries, corporate and noncorporate fiduciaries, and not-for-profit entities (including private foundations and public charities) on a multitude of tax and property law issues. He is actively involved with the Trusts and Estates Section of the New York State Bar Association, most recently having been appointed District Representative, making him responsible for voting on proposed trusts and estates-related legislation and developing Continuing Legal Education seminars for attorneys. He also is a member of a Special Committee charged with reviewing and suggesting revisions to the proposed New York version of the Uniform Trust Code, which, if enacted, would constitute a major development in New York trust law.


Louis t. A.

Good for those with little background in subject matter

Paul P.

Thank you.


overall very informative

Thomas F.


Robert N.


James H.

The issues addressed were well developed and presented.

Gregory P.

Thank you.

Peter L.

Thoughtful and well planned lecture. Very useful.

Andrew S.

Well done!

Margaret R.

Both speakers read their presentations.

Susan M.

Great speakers who have a great understanding of the subjects involved!

Michael V.

terrific speakers and excellent coverage of the topic.

Carolyn S.

Good program

Laila H.

very comprehensive and a lot of information provided in a short period of time

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