No matter how much you love your family members, you typically cannot control how they handle their affairs. Immensely organized may describe some of them, while others may haphazardly store important items and documents or seem to hoard possessions. Whatever the case may be, if a loved one named you as the executor of the estate, you will have to contend with settling the final affairs, no matter how organized or unorganized he or she may have been.
You may have accepted the role of executor without knowing the full details of your loved one's estate. Now that he or she has passed and you must carry out the necessary duties, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. You may also worry about how much of your time the process will take from you. Because probate proceedings can be lengthy, you may want to look at your obligation as executor for what it is: a job. Fortunately, you can receive compensation for completing this job.
You can receive an executor's fee as compensation for settling your loved one's estate. The amount of compensation and type of compensation may depend on many factors, such as:
- Your loved one's will: If he or she appointed you as executor in the will, your loved one may have included a note regarding your compensation. It may indicate a specific dollar amount or a specific bequest, or may even simply leave the determination up to state law.
- State law: If your loved one indicated that state law should take precedence, or he or she did not mention the fee at all, state law will apply, which typically means that the court will calculate a certain percentage of the estate to determine the fee. In North Carolina, you could obtain up to 5 percent of the remaining estate after you have addressed outstanding debts and received all remaining revenue.
- Reasonable or extraordinary: Typically, the decided-upon amount is one that the court deems reasonable for handling a straightforward probate process. However, if you have to settle a particularly difficult estate, oversee the sale of real estate or represent the estate during litigation, you may deserve to an extraordinary amount of compensation.
You may also want to remember that you do not have to accept compensation for completing probate if you do not want to. Additionally, you may want to prepare for possible disputes regarding the amount of compensation you collect, if you do accept. However, having an attorney on your side can help you understand how the executor's fee applies and help you defend the amount you potentially collect, if necessary.