Is It Customary to Pay the Executor of a Will?

By Tom Streissguth

Drawing up a will is essential if you want to leave property to your family, close friends, charities or any other beneficiaries. Wills must have an executor, the person you choose to carry out the terms of your will and transfer assets to your chosen beneficiaries. Whether or not the executor is an experienced legal professional, compensation for this often-difficult task is customary.

Drawing up a will is essential if you want to leave property to your family, close friends, charities or any other beneficiaries. Wills must have an executor, the person you choose to carry out the terms of your will and transfer assets to your chosen beneficiaries. Whether or not the executor is an experienced legal professional, compensation for this often-difficult task is customary.

Executor Duties

When you draw up a will, you name an executor to carry out its terms. In some states, the executor is also known as a personal representative. The executor is responsible for submitting the will to probate court, if probate is necessary, and handling the estate's assets, debts, and bequests (the transfers of property to the beneficiaries). If you set up a trust, your executor or trustee may be able to avoid probate court. In cases where there is no will, the probate court will appoint an administrator to handle these duties.

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Statutory Fees

For executor fees, state probate laws typically set forth the rules and guidelines. These laws vary from one state to the next; the standard fees are usually set as a percentage of estate assets, up to a statutory maximum. The local rules of court in the county where you probate the will may also set a maximum executor fee. Law firms, banks and financial advisers that routinely serve as executors of estates often have their own schedule of fees that conform to state law. In the case of very large estates, the beneficiaries can sometimes negotiate this fee with the appointed executor.

Negotiations

If the state does not set the executor fee, or if the executor does not agree to work within any local guidelines, the beneficiaries will be responsible for negotiating the fee. Important considerations include the size of the estate, the number of beneficiaries and where they live, and any legal issues, such as disputed claims on estate assets. Executors have a heavy responsibility even with simple and straightforward estates, and beneficiaries should consider the considerable time and attention the job entails. An executor who withdraws from this responsibility will cause further delay, and the search for a new executor might bring about expensive probate litigation.

Considerations

Some states, such as New York, have established executor fees as a percentage of the estate's value, after subtracting specific bequests to individuals. When there are two or more appointed executors, the will should specify the responsibilities of each; otherwise the probate court will make this decision. Many wills appoint alternate or successor executors who take on an executor's responsibilities if the principal executor is unable or unwilling to do so. The fee for the executor may be specified in the will; the testator who drew up the will may also replace the fee with a bequest from the estate. Recent court decisions have held that executors or administrators are entitled to an advance payment before approval of the fee by beneficiaries or by the court. For a variety of reasons, executors may waive their fee.

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Can Executors of Estates Get Paid?

References

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What Percentage Does the Executor Get in Illinois?

An executor in Illinois handles your estate according to the instructions in your will. If there is no will, the probate court will appoint an administrator to pay the outstanding debts and transfer the remaining assets to your legal heirs. Whether or not a will appoints an executor, Illinois law provides for reasonable compensation for these services at an hourly rate, not based on a set percentage of the estate's assets.

Guidelines for an Executor of an Estate for Indiana

Executors are individuals or institutions named in a will to oversee the transferring of property owned by a deceased person to his beneficiaries after death. The process is referred to as probate and Indiana law places certain restrictions on who may serve as an executor as well as the duties and standards for the executor's performance. Understanding the guidelines for executors in Indiana will help you make an informed decision on who to appoint for carrying out these important probate responsibilities.

Executor of Estate Law in Ohio

An executor is the person appointed, in your will, to administer your estate after your death. Your executor should be someone you trust to disburse your property to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. While you are free to name your executor, Ohio law does set forth certain requirements to ensure the probate process goes smoothly. The probate court must approve the executor before he starts work. If you do not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator. Collectively, executors and administrators are referred to as personal representatives.

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