In the Matter of: The Estate of Charles V. Schwenker: William V. Schwenker, Co-Fiduciary of the Estate of Charles V. Schwenker, Appellant.
from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Probate
Division Prob. No. 573773.
Fisher, Skrobot & Sheraw, LLC, Matthew J. Kunsman, and
David A. Skrobot, for appellant.
Cavalieri, LLC, Dan L. Cvetanovich, and Robert R. Dunn, for
1} Appellant, William V. Schwenker, co-fiduciary of
the Estate of Charles V. Schwenker ("decedent"),
appeals from an entry of the Franklin County Court of Common
Pleas, Probate Division, approving in part the application
for attorney fees submitted by appellee Bailey Cavalieri,
LLC, attorneys for the estate.
2} Decedent died intestate in Franklin County on
February 17, 2015. His two adult children, William V.
Schwenker and Diana S. Anderson, shared the estate equally.
After a brief period in which the probate court appointed a
creditors' agent as administrator, several versions of
the will were located and filed, and the court appointed
decedent's children, William and Diana, as co-executors
on October 15, 2015. Discovery and submission of a later will
and codicils followed, but there was ultimately no
controversy over which effective documents would govern
3} The co-executors retained Attorney Robert R. Dunn
of the law firm Bailey Cavalieri, LLC, to administer the
estate, pursuant to an hourly fee agreement payable upon
closing the estate. Eventually, each co-executor retained
personal counsel as well. On June 1, 2017, the co-executors
and Attorney Dunn submitted the first partial accounting for
the estate. On June 27, 2017, Attorney Dunn filed an
application for attorney fees and costs requesting the court
approve his application in the amount of $73, 995.00 in fees
and $941.96 in costs for services for the period September 2,
2015 through June 20, 2017. The fee application included the
final estimated cost to close the estate.
4} William contested the fee application, asserting
it was excessive given the straightforward nature of the
estate and the number of non-probate assets. The application
was heard before a magistrate on July 28 and August 15, 2017.
The parties, William on one hand and Attorney Dunn and his
firm on the other, presented contrasting expert testimony
regarding the reasonable amount of fees for a comparable
estate. The magistrate rendered a decision on September 15,
2017 approving fee application in the slightly reduced amount
of $73, 291.00 and $941.96 in costs. The magistrate found
factually that, to the extent that attorney fees exceeded the
expectation of the beneficiaries, the fees were partially the
result of contentious conduct between the co-executors and
their difficulty in cooperating to perform their fiduciary
5} William filed objections to the magistrate's
decision on September 29, 2017. On April 3, 2018, the probate
court entered judgment overruling William's objections
for the most part, sustaining them in minor respects, and
reducing the fee award by $5, 000.
6} Attorney Dunn requested permission on January 19,
2018 to resign as counsel for the co-executors. The probate
court conditioned the resignation upon the filing of a final
account. When the co-executors refused to sign the final
account as presented, Attorney Dunn requested the court lift
this condition, which was granted and Attorney Dunn's
resignation was accepted on April 16, 2018.
7} William filed his notice of appeal from the
probate court's final judgment on May 3, 2018. Diana has
neither appealed nor appeared before this court. ...