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Typical practices for compensating executors

Executing a will can be a challenging and time-consuming job. Often, the most responsible or skilled person in a person’s circle is the individual’s first choice to execute his or her estate. As such, it makes sense to compensate the person for the time, skill, effort, and even risk that the individual undertakes in being an executor. In California, there are few factors that might impact how much an executor is paid:

  • Information within the will: If a will is left, it might have some information about how the deceased would like the executor to be compensated. Those who detail this in their wills may provide for a flat fee, a percentage of the estate, or the following of state law standards in determining the reimbursement.
  • State law: Those without a will, or those who instruct the following of state law, will need to consider the state Probate Code. This is typically a percentage of the estate that decreases incrementally as the value of the estate goes up. Probate Court may also get involved.
  • Extraordinary services: Some executor tasks can go beyond just rounding up assets and distributing them. For example, they may need to oversee a real estate sale or deal with litigation. In these cases, probate law may grant them an additional fee.
  • Shared duties: On the other hand, some people may share the work of executing an estate with a co-executor. Typically, this means dividing the compensation equally. Other times, people will record their hours and divvy up the fee accordingly. This can be a tricky matter overall.

As with most things in estate administration, more detail within the will can typically make for an easier process when it comes to compensating an executor. State law is a good starting point for determining how much an executor should be paid. Those who have questions about how this compensation might work, including typical amounts and timing of payments, should speak with a California estate planning lawyer.


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