Can an Executor Charge a Beneficiary for Duties?

By John Cromwell

The executor of an estate is normally named in a valid will, appointed by the overseeing probate court, and is generally a family member or friend of the deceased. A lawyer or other professional can also be named as an executor. An executor is responsible for paying the deceased’s debts and distributing the estate assets in the manner described in the will. He may also need to hire others, such as appraisers, to help him value or sell assets in the estate. These services are also paid for by the estate. An executor can be paid for his services, but he is not compensated directly by the beneficiaries. The estate pays for the executor’s services, which diminishes the amount of assets the beneficiaries get.

Step 1

List all of the expenses you have incurred and all the time you have spent as an executor. Record all information on the date you incurred the charge or did the work. Keep any other supporting documents, such as invoices, as well.

Step 2

Keep a copy of the estate accounting that defines the total value of the estate. Early on in the probate process, you will be required to inventory the assets that are included in the probate estate and determine its overall value. The value and composition of the estate will be an important component in determining your fee.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Review the will to determine if it comments on the executor’s compensation. Some wills may define how much an executor can receive for performing their responsibilities, either as a flat fee or at an hourly rate for is work. It can also state that the executor is to receive no compensation for his work.

Step 4

Read the probate code of the state where the estate is located to determine how much it requires estates to pay executors. This is only relevant if the will does not provide how much an executor is paid. Some states, such as Kentucky, will pay the executor a percentage of the estate’s total assets. A few jurisdictions, such as California, have a fee schedule that pays executors a flat fee based on the estate's total value. States that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, such as Arizona, determine executor fees based on a “fairness” standard. In these cases, the executor’s fees are based on the work done by the executor and the size and composition of the estate.

Step 5

Consider whether you want to renounce will provisions regarding compensation. If you did not formally agree to terms of the compensation prior to deceased’s death, some states allow you to renounce the part of the will regarding compensation. Instead, you can either claim fees permitted under the appropriate probate code or you can waive your rights to any fees. The second option is generally used by executors who also happen to be the sole beneficiary of the will or a close relative of the deceased.

Step 6

Prepare a letter renouncing the payment provision of the will if you want to be paid according to another standard. The letter, which should be dated and signed by you, should clearly define whether you want to be paid based on the state’s probate code or not be paid at all. Submit this letter to the overseeing court.

Step 7

Petition the overseeing court to approve the payment of fees to you once the estate is almost prepared to be closed. Estate expenses need to be approved. Prepare the petition for payment and attach your documentary evidence demonstrating the work you have done. Ask for the appropriate fee based on the deceased’s will or the state’s probate code. If the state has adopted the UPC, ask for “reasonable compensation based on the service provided to the estate.” Generally, the court should then approve the fee and authorize you to pay yourself using the estate’s assets.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
The Fee for the Executor of a Will in North Carolina

References

Resources

Related articles

Does an Executor of a Will Receive More?

The job of an executor is to handle the estate of the deceased. In most cases, the deceased names the executor in his will. When there is no will, or when an executor can't complete the task, a probate court will appoint one. Under state probate rules, executors are responsible for filing the petition of probate and the will with the probate court and then seeing the process through to final distribution of the deceased's assets. Acting as an executor can be a complex and time-consuming process, but fortunately state laws also allow for fair compensation to executors from the estate assets.

What Monetary Percentage Does an Executor of a Will Get?

Many states allow the executor of an estate to receive compensation for his work on the estate. The monetary percentage the executor of a will receives in these states depends on the law of each particular state. Some states use a percentage amount set by law, while others allow the probate court to set the rate.

Can Executors of an Estate Charge a Monthly Fee Until Probate Is Finished?

There's no question that executors of estates deserve compensation for their work, but they're not usually paid until probate is over. You can override this if you provide for special arrangements or specific remuneration in your will, but if you don't, your state's laws will take over regarding when your executor is paid and how much.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Can an Executor Legally Charge the Estate for in Texas?

When a person dies in Texas, some or all of the estate's assets will go through a court probate process before being ...

Executor Compensation for Executing Wills

The tasks of a will's executor can be complex and time-consuming, and often require a certain degree of expertise. In ...

How Much Will I Make As Executor of a Will in Missouri?

An executor, sometimes known as a personal representative, is the person named in a will to carry out the final wishes ...

Can an Executor of an Estate Spend Any Money From the Estate?

Executors are allowed to spend estate money as they guide the estate through probate – they just can't spend it on ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED