I am glad to hear that a New York surrogate court awarded the executors of the estate of Leona Helmsley $100 million in fees. The entire estate was worth $5 billion.

Having served myself as an executor for the estate of a family member from New York, I can speak firsthand of the tremendous responsibility and liability involved in the job. The estate of my relative was not nearly as large as the Helmsley estate; nonetheless tasks ranging from preserving assets to shouldering the financial risk required a high level of commitment and expertise. 

“In its decision, the court agreed with the executors’ position that a multi-factor approach should be used, finding that “a single hourly rate [cannot] accurately reflect the many varied services executors perform and the inevitable risk they incur in performing them.” The court went on to point out the particular “magnitude and complexity” of Helmsley’s estate and the myriad difficulties the executors faced. It highlighted the fact that the executors were able to increase the value of the estate by approximately $400 million during a challenging economic environment brought on by the financial crisis. The court also took into consideration the fact that the executors decided to forego insurance coverage, choosing to bear the brunt of financial risk, because they reasoned that the costs to the estate would have been “prohibitive.”