IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN PATRICK SHANAHAN, ROBERT JOSEPH SHANAHAN, Executor of the John Patrick Shanahan, Estate/Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L.
executor of an estate appeals the district court's order
denying his attorney's request for extraordinary fees.
E. Goodman, Jr. and McKenzie R. Hill of O'Connor &
Thomas, PC, Dubuque, for appellant.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
executor of the estate of John P. Shanahan appeals a district
court order denying his attorney's request for
Background Facts and Proceedings
Shanahan died, leaving a small estate to be distributed under
the terms of his will. His will was admitted to probate, and
his brother Robert Shanahan served as executor of the estate.
The estate's value, after deducting life insurance
proceeds, was $66, 732. John's home comprised the largest
executor's attorney facilitated the sale of the home and
resolved claims for payment of the mortgage and an
outstanding credit card debt. He filed an attorney-fee
application with the district court requesting ordinary
attorney fees of $1454.50. He also requested extraordinary
fees of $2575 on the ground that he "performed
extraordinary services regarding the sale of the real estate
and resolution of the [outstanding] claims . . . and the
preparation of fiduciary income tax returns." The two
beneficiaries of John's estate waived their right to a
hearing and consented to the extraordinary-fee request.
district court approved the request for ordinary fees but
denied the request for extraordinary fees. The executor
Denial of Extraordinary Fees
executor argues (A) "[t]he plain language of Iowa Code
§ 633.199 [(2017)] necessitates an award of
extraordinary attorney's fees," (B) "[t]he
extraordinary services provided . . . genuinely benefited the
Estate," and (C) "[c]ounsel for the Estate is
experienced, highly competent, and handled the Estate with
efficiency." We will address these arguments together.
Code section 633.199 authorizes payment of extraordinary fees
"for actual necessary and extraordinary expenses and
services." The provision uses permissive rather than
mandatory language, stating "further allowances as are
just and reasonable may be made by the court."
Iowa Code § 633.199 (emphasis added). Under the plain
language of section 633.199, the district court was not
required to award extraordinary fees.
said, we are not persuaded by the district court's
rationale for denying the extraordinary-fee request. The
court stated, "[M]ost of this small estate was passed
through beneficiary designation i.e. life insurance."
Although life insurance proceeds were used to pay off the