What Monetary Percentage Does an Executor of a Will Get?

By A.L. Kennedy

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.

Fee Schedule States

As of 2011, California, Nevada, Hawaii and Iowa all use a fee schedule set by state law to determine what percentage of the estate an executor or personal representative should receive as compensation for his work on the estate, according to the Arizona Courts. Of these states, the most complex fee schedule is California's, which provides for different percentage amounts depending on the size of the estate -- the executor may receive up to 4 percent of the first $100,000 of the estate, up to 3 percent of the next $100,000 and up to 2 percent of the next $800,000. For estates over $25 million, the percentage must be set by the court, according to the California Probate Code.

Uniform Probate Code States

Some states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, including the section on how to compensate the executor of a will. In these states, no specific amount or fee is set by law. Instead, the probate code gives the probate court the discretion to determine what percentage to pay the executor, as long as that amount is "reasonable." The burden is placed on the executor to demonstrate that the monetary percentage she wants is reasonable and will not unduly deprive any of the estate's beneficiaries. As of 2011, the states that had adopted the Uniform Probate Code were Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

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Flat Percentage States

Most of the remaining states have a specific flat percentage listed in their probate codes. This percentage represents the amount of the estate the executor may take in compensation, regardless of the estate's size. To prevent unreasonably large executor fees, some states have enacted a flat percentage plus a requirement that the monetary compensation be reasonable overall. For instance, Virginia's probate code allows the executor to take a monetary percentage of 5 percent, but requires the probate court to check the dollar amount this represents and reduce it if it is unreasonably large for the amount of work the executor has done.

Hourly Rate States

When setting a "reasonable" fee for the executor, Uniform Probate Code states and other states that allow a judge to set a reasonable fee often permit the judge to set an hourly rate for the executor rather than giving him a certain percentage of the estate's assets. The hourly rate is designed to compensate the executor for the work he actually does, rather than compensate him based on the size of the estate.

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How Much Do I Pay an Executor of a Will?

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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 general, an executor is paid for his time, unless he is also a sole or substantial beneficiary under the will. Terms for payment vary from state to state. In most places, an executor who feels he is being under-compensated can petition the court for a more fair payment, but this can result in attorney fees and court costs that exceed the extra award.

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.

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.

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