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BICKEL APPEAL. (03/25/57)

March 25, 1957

BICKEL APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 104, Jan. T., 1957, from decree of Orphans' Court of Lebanon County, March T., 1930, No. 24, in re Lebanon National Bank, trustee of Harriet E. Gipe, known as Harriet E. Levering. Decree affirmed. Proceeding upon petition of attorney and rule to show cause why counsel fees should not be paid out of corpus of trust. Before EHRGOOD, P.J. Final decree entered directing payment of reduced fees to be charged against corpus of trust. Petitioner appealed.

COUNSEL

H. Rank Bickel, Jr., with him Bickel, Davis & Katz, for appellant.

C. Vincent Henry, Jr., with him Christian R. Gingrich, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 388 Pa. Page 271]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

Appellant is an attorney engaged in practice in Lebanon County. Following the termination of litigation involving an inter vivos trust in which as co-counsel he represented the trustee, appellant petitioned and obtained a rule from the Orphans' Court of that county upon all parties in interest to show cause why the court should not allow him a fee of $2,800 for his services, to be paid out of the corpus of the trust. The trustee, Lebanon National Bank, filed an answer averring, inter alia, that the fee requested was excessive. The life beneficiary who was also the settlor of the trust, filed an answer averring, inter alia, that she was under the impression that the trustee was represented in the litigation by C. V. Henry, Jr., Esquire, the solicitor of the bank, as sole counsel, and demanding full information as to the need of appellant's employment as additional counsel.

After hearing at which testimony was taken, the court entered an order refusing compensation in the amount requested but approving a fee in the amount of $1,000. This appeal followed.

President Judge EHRGOOD who conducted the hearing held that appellant was properly employed by the trustee bank and that to the extent that his services were rendered to the trustee in preserving the trust

[ 388 Pa. Page 272]

    against the attack made thereon, their nature entitled appellant to be paid therefor out of the principal of the trust. These conclusions are not here questioned, and the only matter for our determination on this appeal is whether the court abused its discretion in refusing the fee requested by appellant and fixing it at $1,000.

In January of 1937 Harriet E. Gipe, shortly after she became of age, executed an irrevocable deed of trust in which she appointed the Lebanon National Bank trustee and provided for the payment of income from the principal of the trust to herself for life, with remainder to her father, Harry S. Gipe. It appears that the principal of the trust consisted of cash and securities received by Harriet E. Gipe, the settlor and life beneficiary, upon the death of her grandfather, and at the time of the litigation in which appellant acted as co-counsel for the trustee bank the principal amounted to approximately $21,000.

About 13 years later, on April 18, 1950, a bill in equity was filed on behalf of Harriet E. Gipe at No. 3 Equity Docket, 1950, by L. E. Meyer, Esquire against Lebanon National Bank, Trustee, and Harry S. Gipe, seeking to set aside and invalidate the deed of trust on the grounds of lack of mental capacity, fraud, undue influence and coercion exercised by her father, Harry S. Gipe. Appearances and answers were filed to this bill by C. V. Henry, Jr., Esquire as attorney for the trustee bank and by appellant on behalf of ...


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