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In re Estate of Vincent

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

November 1, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JAMES L. VINCENT, DECEASED.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 26, 2013.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. P-241-11.

Beth Robinson, appellant pro se.

Before Judges Alvarez and Maven.

PER CURIAM.

Beth Marie Robinson, Executrix of the Estate of James L. Vincent, appeals from the January 5, 2012 and April 5, 2012 judgments approving a final accounting and denying her motion for reconsideration, respectively. We affirm substantially for the reasons enunciated by Patricia Del Bueno Cleary, J.S.C. in her well-reasoned oral opinions.

James L. Vincent died on June 3, 2005. His Last Will and Testament, executed on October 15, 1997, reads, in relevant part:

A. I direct that all my just debts (other than debts, if any, secured by mortgages of real estate or the assignment or pledge of life insurance policies), my funeral expenses, . . . and the costs of administering my estate be paid as soon as convenient or practical after my death.
B. My Executor, in his sole discretion, may pay from any domiciliary estate all or any portion of the costs of ancillary and similar proceedings in other jurisdictions.

The Monmouth County Surrogate's Office admitted the Will into probate on July 13, 2006, and letters testamentary were issued naming his daughter, Beth Marie Robinson, the Executrix. The Will provided that the residual estate was to be equally divided between his two daughters, Robinson and Tracie Renee Vincent. Shortly after her father's death, Vincent retained counsel. Robinson and Vincent have been bitterly at odds throughout the resolution of decedent's estate.

The estate was litigated in two courts. The first case involved a foreclosure action filed against the estate for collection on a home equity line of credit.[1] After many proceedings to resolve the foreclosure action, a General Equity judge conducted a hearing on August 14, 2009, to schedule the closing date for the sale of the property before August 21, 2009.

Robinson retained Barry Slott, Esquire to represent the estate in the sale of the property. Slott held the $17, 000 deposit in his attorney trust account. The record contains an undated letter from Slott to Robinson stating he was advancing Robinson $4000 and paying himself $13, 000 for legal services rendered, from the escrowed funds. In a subsequent letter dated December 3, 2009, Slott wrote that he

enclose[d] [his] attorney trust account check, payable to the Estate, in the amount of $38, 241.51, representing full and final disbursement of the proceeds of sale. [He] deducted [his] remaining fee of $2, 389.00 from the escrow, and a copy of ...

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