What Monetary Percentage Does an Executor of a Will Get?

By Christine Funk, J.D.

What Monetary Percentage Does an Executor of a Will Get?

By Christine Funk, J.D.

When someone is the executor of a will, they have certain obligations and responsibilities. It's only natural they get paid for their time. The way an executor gets paid varies depending on the state that has jurisdiction over the estate. Some states pay a percentage, others pay on another fee schedule.

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Different Types of Compensation for an Executor of a Will

Compensation Based on Varied Percentages

In states where an executor is paid based on a percentage of the value of the estate, that percentage is used as a benchmark. For example:

Value of the Estate

Percentage Permitted as Compensation

First $400,000


Next $300,000


Balance over $1,000,000


This is, of course, one example. Different states will apply different percentages, or different dollar amounts, but the idea is the same. The compensation is directly tied to the value of the estate.

Compensation Based on Flat Percentages

While some states alter the percentage of the estate one can reasonably take as a fee for executor services, others do not. Instead, they simply impose a flat percentage. A state may choose, for example, 4 percent of the estate as their approved fee for executors.

Compensation Based on the Uniform Probate Code

The Uniform Probate Code includes a section on compensation for executors of wills. In these states, rather than applying a percentage, the executor submits a bill which the court will approve if it's reasonable. The executor must establish that their bill is reasonable based on the fee requested, along with the type and amount of work done. In many states, the reasonable fee is not based on a percentage of the value of the estate, but rather on an hourly fee. The amount of the hourly fee, of course, must be reasonable as a starting point. Then the executor is paid by the hour for work completed, regardless of the value of the estate.

Compensation Based on the Terms of the Will

If the will includes terms of payment for the executor of the estate, the terms of the will take precedence.

Fees Must Be Reasonable

Regardless of the type of fee approach a given state employs, an executor's fees must still be reasonable under the circumstances. A fee that is considered “too high" by the court may be modified by the probate court judge to more accurately reflect the amount of work the court feels was put into the case. Because an executor's fees are subject to review and scrutiny, it's important to document every minute spent on executor duties. This will best support any claim for fees.

Do you need help with probate? Have you been appointed executor of a will and don't know where to start? Consider consulting with a professional, such as an attorney with experience in probate law, or an online resource to assist you.

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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