The Fee for the Executor of a Will in North Carolina

By Beverly Bird

The individual selected as executor of an estate doesn't have an easy job. She must inventory assets, notify the deceased’s creditors, decide if creditor’s claims are legitimate, and deal with beneficiaries who may or may not be pleased with the decisions she’s made. Most states allow executors to accept financial compensation for all this work and North Carolina is no exception. When a testator -- the person who makes the will -- sets payment for his executor in his will, the terms of his will prevail; otherwise, North Carolina’s probate code determines payment.

Executor’s Percentage

Under North Carolina law, an executor may receive up to five percent of the value of the estate’s “receipts and disbursements" as compensation. This means the court calculates five percent from the value of the estate that remains after the executor has paid the decedent’s debts and after all outstanding revenue is received, such as from investments that produce interest. However, North Carolina’s code does not guarantee a payment of five percent. A court clerk may allow up to this much, but only if she feels the difficulty of settling the estate warrants it. When someone dies without leaving a will and the court appoints an executor, this same procedure applies.

Court Approval

Even when the terms of a will include the specific remuneration the executor should receive, North Carolina does not permit the executor to pay herself at the time she closes the estate without court approval. She must petition the court for permission first. If the testator did not set a specific payment amount, she can ask for the statutory five percent payment. The clerk will decide if the work involved in settling the estate justifies her request.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

How Fees Are Paid

The decedent’s estate is responsible for paying the executor. The decedent’s beneficiaries do not have to pay her directly, although the executor’s compensation will reduce their bequests because the money available to the estate will be less after she receives her percentage. The executor is also entitled to reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses she incurs while settling the estate, such as parking fees or postage. Reimbursement for these costs also comes out of the estate’s funds.


Some wills specifically allow their executors to enlist the services of an attorney, an accountant or both if they have questions regarding certain issues. The estate will usually pay these individuals as well, but some exceptions exist in North Carolina. If a testator’s will does not include specific language allowing this, the probate court clerk must approve payment of these fees as well. If the clerk finds the fees are reasonable, the court may give the go-ahead for the executor to pay the professional or professionals from the estate’s funds. If the clerk decides the estate was so complex that settling it required the assistance of a professional, the court will usually approve these fees. In some instances, however, the court will rule that the executor and professional must share the statutory five percent commission. If the court does not approve the expenditure for professional assistance, then North Carolina requires the executor pay the individual from her own money.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Executor Compensation for Executing Wills


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 passed down to the decedent's beneficiaries. In most cases, the decedent names a trustworthy person in his will to administer the estate. This person, called the executor, acts as a representative of the estate, guiding it through the probate process. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process for the executor, so Texas allows compensation for performing executor duties.

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.

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 themselves. Probate can be an expensive process, and your executor does not have to pay the costs herself. But if she does occasionally use her own money on behalf of the estate, she's entitled to reimbursement. But it's best to check with an attorney first to make sure she's taking money in the proper way.

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

Related articles

Can an Executor Charge a Beneficiary for Duties?

The executor of an estate is normally named in a valid will, appointed by the overseeing probate court, and is ...

How Long Does It Take for a New Jersey Inheritance Settlement?

If someone names you as a beneficiary in a New Jersey will, plan on waiting a minimum of nine months before you receive ...

Who Gets Paid First Out of a Deceased's Estate?

Probate is the process of settling a decedent's estate under court supervision. State law may establish an informal ...

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 ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED