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Can an estate representative get paid?

Serving as the executor of an estate, personal representative or the estate administrator can involve a lot of time, work and dedication. In fact, the duties could be so overwhelming in the case of a large and complicated estate that you don't have time to do anything else -- like your job. If you are managing an estate like this, you can have the estate pay you for your services.

In the case of most complicated estates, the last will and testament will sometimes provide guidance regarding how the personal representative can receive compensation for his or her services. Sometimes, the fees will be limited by the last will and testament. Other wills may simply say that the representative should receive reasonable compensation. Rather than providing a fee, the estate might award a specific bequest to the representative. If nothing is mentioned in the will or no will was made, the payment to the personal representative will be governed by state law.

As for the typical fee an estate representative might be able to expect according to state law, it might work something like this: 4 percent for the first $100,000 of the estate, 3 percent for the next $100,000 of the estate, 2 percent for the next $800,000, 1 percent for the next $10,000,000 and .5 percent for the next $15 million. If the estate is larger, the court might decide the fee on a case by case basis.

As you can see, your rights and privileges to receive compensation as an estate representative will depend on a number of factors. Given the right circumstances, doing so may be appropriate and lawful. As a final note, it's wise to speak with family members and beneficiaries about your plans to take an income before doing so.

Source: Mary C. Lagrone, "Estate administration," accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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