Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15. Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries § 15-10-603. Factors in determining the reasonableness of compensation and costs

(1) A court may review and determine:

(a) The reasonableness of the compensation of any fiduciary, lawyer, or other person who:

(I) Is employed on behalf of an estate, fiduciary, respondent, ward, or protected person;

(II) Is appointed by the court;  or

(III) Provides beneficial services to an estate, respondent, ward, or protected person;  and

(b) The appropriateness of any cost sought to be paid by or recovered from an estate.

(2) In considering the reasonableness of the compensation, there shall be no presumption that any method of charging a fee for services rendered to an estate, fiduciary, principal, respondent, ward, or protected person is per se unreasonable.  Regardless of the method used for charging a fee, in determining appropriate compensation, the court shall apply the standard of reasonableness in light of all relevant facts and circumstances.

(3) The court shall consider all of the factors described in this subsection (3) in determining the reasonableness of any compensation or cost.  The court may determine the weight to be given to each factor and to any other factor the court considers relevant in reaching its decision:

(a) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill required to perform the service properly;

(b) The likelihood, if apparent to the fiduciary, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude the person employed from other employment;

(c)(I) The compensation customarily charged in the community for similar services with due consideration and allowance for the complexity or uniqueness of any administrative or litigated issues, the need for and local availability of specialized knowledge or expertise, and the need for and advisability of retaining outside fiduciaries or lawyers to avoid potential conflicts of interest;

(II) As used in this subsection (3), unless the context otherwise requires, “community” means the general geographical area in which the estate is being administered or in which the respondent, ward, or protected person resides.

(d) The nature and size of the estate, the liquidity or illiquidity of the estate, and the results and benefits obtained during the administration of the estate;

(e) Whether and to what extent any litigation has taken place and the results of such litigation;

(f) The life expectancy and needs of the respondent, ward, protected person, devisee, beneficiary, or principal;

(g) The time limitations imposed on or by the fiduciary or by the circumstances of the administration of the estate;

(h) The adequacy of any detailed billing statements upon which the compensation is based;

(i) Whether the fiduciary has charged variable rates that reflect comparable payment standards in the community for like services;

(j) The expertise, special skills, reputation, and ability of the person performing the services and, in the case of a fiduciary, whether and to what extent the fiduciary has had any prior experience in administering estates similar to those for which compensation is sought;

(k) The terms of a governing instrument;

(l) The various courses of action available to a fiduciary or an individual seeking compensation for a particular service or alleged benefit and whether the course of action taken was reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances existing at the time the service was performed;  and

(m) The various courses of action available to a fiduciary or an individual seeking compensation for a particular service or alleged benefit and the cost-effectiveness of the action taken under the circumstances existing at the time the service was performed.

(4) If a governing instrument provides that a fiduciary is entitled to receive compensation in accordance with a published fee schedule in effect at the time the services are performed, fees charged in accordance with the published fee schedule shall be presumed to be reasonable.  The absence of such a provision in a governing instrument shall not preclude the fiduciary from receiving compensation in accordance with a published fee schedule in effect at the time the services are performed.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit members or employees of a professional fiduciary's organization or law firm, including partners, associates, paralegals, law clerks, trust officers, caregivers, and social workers, from collaborating on the same service so long as the collaboration is reasonable and the total compensation charged for the service in the aggregate is reasonable under the circumstances.


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