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Lawsuit centers on trustees' $60M compensation request

Individuals who establish a trust as part of their estate plan must appoint one or more trustees to manage assets held in that trust. Depending on the type of trust and amount of assets, duties associated with managing a trust can become a full-time job. Given the time commitment often needed to accomplish a trust's goals, some individuals provide for a trustee's annual salary.

A lawsuit related to the estate of late pop artist Robert Rauschenberg is set to go to trial in late March. The lawsuit was filed by three trustees who Rauschenberg appointed to manage a trust that's now estimated to be worth $2 billion. At issue is the $60 million of the trust's assets the trustees contend should be provided as compensation for their services.

An attorney hired by the trust’s beneficiary, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, argues the trustees' request for $60 million in compensation is "not reasonable". The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation's mission is to manage the late artist's works and also provide financial support for charities and new artists. The $60 million sought by the trustees would otherwise be used to further the foundation's mission.

An attorney for the trustees argues the three men have worked diligently and tirelessly to grow the trust's assets by "reintroducing Rauschenberg's artwork to the market". The late artist did not provide for any trustee fee agreement nor have the trustees kept track of their efforts or time spent managing the trust since Rauschenberg's death in 2008.

This case is an example of the type of unforeseen estate disputes that can arise in the wake of a loved one's death. Ohio residents who have questions or concerns about a loved one's will or other estate matter would be wise to consult with an attorney who handles estate planning and probate litigation cases.

Source: Telegram & Gazette, "Late pop artist Robert Rauschenberg's trustees seeking $60 million in fees," Tamara Lush, Jan. 6, 2014

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