What Is the Statutory Amount to Pay an Estate Executor in Illinois?

By Wayne Thomas

When you die, an executor must collect your remaining assets, pay your creditors, and distribute your property according to a will -- or if you do not leave a will, according to state law. Illinois law provides for "reasonable" compensation for the work your executor must perform in administering your estate. The probate court has the ultimate say in whether a fee is reasonable. It will consider the hours involved, the size of the estate, and any unique circumstances.

Duties of an Executor

If you name an executor in your will, she is referred to -- obviously -- as the "executor" of your estate. If you don't name someone in your will or if you don't leave a will, the court appoints someone, who's called an estate "administrator." Administrators and executors do essentially the same job and have several duties as part of the probate process. They include inventorying your property, preparing tax returns, notifying creditors, and distributing property to your beneficiaries or heirs.

Reasonable Compensation

The work required of an executor or administrator can be time-consuming. This is particularly true if you own a lot of property, if there are significant claims against the estate or if there are lawsuits to pursue or defend, such as a wrongful death action. Illinois law therefore provides that administrators and executors are entitled to "reasonable" compensation from the estate. Reasonableness is not defined in the law. The presiding judge determines it on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the circumstances. If the executor served as one of two witnesses to the will signing, however, no compensation is allowed. This is to avoid the appearance of a financial conflict of interest.

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Factors Considered

After the executor requests his fee, the probate court takes into account several factors when determining whether it is reasonable. These factors include the size of the estate, the skill with which the work was performed, and the time involved. An example of a unique circumstance requiring more work would be locating a beneficiary who moved abroad without leaving forwarding information. Although an itemized time sheet can be helpful in determining how much work was performed, failure to keep time sheets does not bar an executor from receiving compensation. If your will provides for less compensation than the executor believes is warranted based on the work performed, the court can adjust the fee to reflect an amount that is reasonable under the circumstances.

Expenses

Beyond compensation for services, Illinois law allows executors to receive reimbursement for legitimate out-of-pocket costs. Like compensation, the legitimacy of any claimed administrative expense is determined by the probate court, and it must be viewed in the context of the particular estate. For example, a typical cost incurred in settling an estate is mileage and gas. A judge might be inclined to deny reimbursement for these travel expenses if the executor inexplicably drove to another county to complete a task when a phone call would have produced the same result.

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References

Related articles

Iowa State Laws on Executors

Probate is the process by which your estate is transferred to your beneficiaries after your death. An executor is the person you appointed in your will who is responsible for overseeing the probate process. In Iowa, the executor is also referred to as the personal representative. Your executor has a duty to act in accordance with your wishes and in the best interests of your beneficiaries.

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.

How to Get a Surety Bond for Probate Court

In addition to taking on a detailed, complicated job, the executor of a probate estate sometimes runs into the added difficulty of having to secure a surety bond before she can even get started. When you nominate someone as executor in your will, you might want to think about what you're asking of her if you don't waive this requirement in the document. In most cases, the issuer of the bond will scrutinize her personal life. Depending on where you live, she might have to pay for the bond herself unless you make other arrangements.

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