Many people who accept the role of executor for family and friends agree to serve in that capacity without seeking compensation. There may be little money in the estate and the duties may be perfunctory enough that there is no need to seek payment.
But then there are cases that can be extraordinarily complex, with bickering or missing heirs. The executors may have to do a lot of work and subsequently deserve to be paid for their time and efforts.
What determines an executor’s fees?
In the state of Washington, executors are entitled to “reasonable compensation.” The probate court must approve executors’ fees and look to local standards when approving fees — typically a percentage of the estate total. When a case is particularly labor-intensive or goes on for longer than most, the courts may agree to increase the executor’s fees to address these factors.
Even if you do not bill the estate for your time, you should keep scrupulous records of any cash that you spend carrying out your duties as executor. For instance, you might need to travel to another state in an attempt to locate an absent heir. All costs associated with travel for the estate can be compensated.
You might also have to arrange for maintenance service on the property or pay someone to regularly cut the grass. Submit each receipt so that you aren’t paying out-of-pocket for any of these costs.
What if the heirs grumble about you getting paid?
Depending upon the heirs and their relationship with you, you could face some resentment over the executor’s fees. But this should not bother you as long as your fees reflect true expenditures and time spent managing the estate. A Seattle probate attorney can advise you regarding any expenses with probating the estate.