When a loved one passes away, it is most likely that his or her estate will need to go through the probate process. As someone who had a close relationship to the decedent, the person may have named you as executor of the estate. By holding this position, you will have the obligation of executing the instructions your family member left behind in his or her will and other estate planning documents.
Probate and closing an estate can take months or even years to complete. Because of the many tasks involved, you may consider acting as executor a job, and thinking of it in this manner is wise. You have to make sure that you complete the process correctly, do not breach your fiduciary duty and follow your loved one's wishes. Of course, having a job also means that you get paid.
As the executor, you are entitled to collect a fee for the services you provide. If you simply feel like carrying out the necessary duties out of the goodness of your heart, you may decline the fee, but because probate can be strenuous, collecting a fee is common and warranted. Of course, you cannot just collect as much money as you want. Certain stipulations apply.
Determining fee amount
A variety of ways exist when it comes to determining the fee amounts. When calculating the amount you could collect, you may want to consider the following methods:
- A specific amount in your loved one's will: The decedent may have indicated in his or her will that the executor should obtain a specific dollar amount or may have made another specific bequest.
- California state law: Most state laws regarding executor fees utilize a percentage of the gross value of the estate.
- Court decision: In some cases, the court may determine a reasonable amount that the executor should obtain.
- Extraordinary fee: In the event that you have to perform extraordinary services, like defending the estate during litigation, the court may award you an extraordinary fee.
The exact fee amount you obtain will likely depend on your specific circumstances. You may also want to keep in mind that other beneficiaries may balk at the idea of you collecting a fee for your services, but you are entitled to compensation under law. If you would like to gain more information on your duties as executor, the probate process and your allowable fee, you may want to speak with an experienced attorney.