How Much Do I Pay an Executor of a Will?

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How Much Do I Pay an Executor of a Will?

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Determining how much to should pay someone to perform the duties of an executor to a will requires serious consideration. Will writers have the option of determining in advance how much they will pay their executor or they can remain silent on payment and leave that decision to the court or the laws of the state.

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Understanding the Job of the Executor

Before determining how much to pay an executor, it is a good idea to make certain you have a good understanding of the duties of a will's executor. Doing so informs will writers about how much these services might be worth. Executors:

  • Inventory the estate
  • Procure valuations on property, antiques, collections, art, jewelry, and the like
  • Locate and contact beneficiaries
  • Contact creditors
  • Pay the bills of the deceased
  • File taxes on the deceased's behalf (in some states)
  • Ensure proper distribution of the assets, according to the will, after the bills have been paid

Of course, if the will is contested, the executor must also defend it in a court of law. Executors also have a fiduciary duty and must make certain they document their work and their decisions. These tasks involved in probate, the process of proving and executing a will, can take several months to complete and take time away from the executor's personal responsibilities. All of this should be considered when evaluating how much someone should pay a person to execute their will.

Understanding Different Approaches to Payment

There are a few different ways you can approach the payment of an executor. The writer of the last will and testament may decide that the executor should receive a percentage of the estate as compensation for their services. Alternatively, they may be paid by the hour. Another option to consider is flat fee compensation. Some will writers indicate in their will it is their intention the executor not get paid for their work. Finally, a will writer may choose to indicate the executor will be compensated in accordance with state law, or, if they remain silent on the issue, state law prevails.

States pay executors in the following ways:

  • As a percentage of the estate's assets
  • Using a fee schedule set by law, based on the size of the estate
  • As a flat fee
  • Hourly

The probate judge has the option of setting a reasonable amount of compensation when the state is overseeing the payment based on their judgment of what is appropriate.

Understanding When the Executor Gets Paid

Typically, the executor gets paid after all the bills of the estate have been taken care of. They are paid before the remaining assets are distributed to the designated beneficiaries. The probate court usually reviews the case to ensure all debts have been paid before approving payment to the executor of the will.

Executing a will can seem daunting, but it is essential to ensure compliance with the law. You can consult with an attorney who has experience with probating wills or an online service provider for assistance.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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