Rozbicki v. Gisselbrecht
When ruling on compensation for an executor, a court may consider: the size of the estate, the responsibilities involved, the character of the work, special problems, results achieved, skill required, promptness of settlement and time required. Kathleen Gisselbrecht worked for many years at the law office of Zbigniew Rozbicki, and he served as the executor of Gisselbrecht's estate, after Gisselbrecht passed away in 2007. Rozbicki arranged to distribute life insurance benefits to Gisselbrecht's brother and sister. Because Rozbicki had loaned Gisselbrecht $20,000, and she indicated in her will that Rozbicki should receive payment, Rozbicki allegedly removed $20,000 from the estate, without notice to the beneficiaries or the Probate Court's approval. Rozbicki filed a request for fees that indicated that he was owed money, because he represented Gisselbrecht in a personal-injury action. The estate beneficiaries had not been aware, and the relationship between Rozbicki and the beneficiaries deteriorated. In retaliation, Rozbicki sued the beneficiaries for the return of the life insurance proceeds. In 2009, the Probate Court removed Rozbicki as estate executor and ordered Rozbicki to submit an accounting. Rozbicki's accounting did not fully comply with Probate Court requirements. When Rozbicki requested compensation, the Probate Court did not award all the fees Rozbicki had requested. Rozbicki appealed. The Superior Court conducted a trial de novo on Rozbicki's request for $38,417 for his work as an executor and $25,465 for his work as an attorney. Inventorying the estate assets was not difficult, and creditors were paid within months. Rozbicki took steps that allegedly prolonged the estate's settlement and depleted the estate. Rozbicki allegedly double billed for certain items. The court awarded $2,000 for his work as estate executor and $1,500 in attorneys' fees, for his work to sell the estate's real property. The court denied Rozbicki's request for an additional $22,417, for his work litigating. Rozbicki, wrote the court, pursued a personal vendetta to punish, harass and annoy the decedent's family and failed to pursue the estate's best interests. The court approved the estate's request for $890 in filing fees, $2,623 in attorney and research fees, and $764 in transcript fees.