How Much Money Will I Get Paid as an Executor of an Estate in Probate Court in California?

How Much Money Will I Get Paid as an Executor of an Estate in Probate Court in California?

An Executor’s fee is the portion of a deceased individual’s estate that is paid to the decedent’s Executor for performing their duties in Probate Court. While the California Probate Code often refers to Personal Representative, the rules governing the duties, liabilities and compensation of Executors are the same as Administrators and Personal Representatives.

In California Probate Court, the Executor oversees and must be responsible for certain duties regarding the decedent’s estate. These duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

1 – locating the assets that make up the estate;
2 – notifying the beneficiaries and heirs that the decedent has died;
3 – notifying the creditors of the decedent and paying off the deceased’s debts; and
4 – transferring the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs.

All of this is done under the watchful eye of the Probate Court. In exchange for these services, Executors, Administrators, and Personal Representatives are entitled to receive compensation. The specific amount that the Executor can receive as Executor’s fees can vary considerably, depending on the size and value of the estate.

In California, if the decedent has left a Will and the Will does not specify how Executor compensation should be calculated, the Executor of the Will must follow specific rules to calculate the amount of the Executor’s fees. These fees are typically calculated as follows:

Under California Probate Code section 10800, the Executor, Administrator, or Personal Representative typically receives statutory compensation based on California law calculated in the following manner:

  • 4% on the first $100,000;
  • 3% on the next $100,000;
  • 2% on the next $800,000;
  • 0% on the next $9M;
  • 5% on the next $15M; and
  • A reasonable amount, as determined by the court, for all amounts above $25M.

Example #1 – If an estate is worth $300,000, then the Executor is entitled to:
4% of the first $100,000 =     $4,000
3% of the next $100,000 = + $3,000
2% of the next $100,000 = + $2,000
Executor’s Fee TOTAL =        $9,000

Example #2 – If an estate is worth $750,000, then the Executor is entitled to:
4% of the first $100,000 =       $  4,000
3% of the next $100,000 =    +$  3,000
2% of the next $550,000 =    +$11,000
 Executor’s Fee TOTAL =        $18,000

Example #3 – If an estate is worth $2,500,000, then the Executor is entitled to:
4% of the first $   100,000 =        $4,000
3% of the next $   100,000 =   +  $3,000
2% of the next $   800,000 =   +$16,000
1% of the next $1,500,000 =
   +$15,000
    Executor’s Fee TOTAL =        $38,000

According to California Probate Code section 10800(b), the value of the estate accounted for by the executor “is the total amount of the appraisal value of property in the inventory, plus gains over the appraisal value on sales, plus receipts, less losses from the appraisal value on sales, without reference to encumbrances or other obligations on estate property.”

In other words, if the only asset in the estate is a piece of real property that is appraised at $750,000, and that property has a loan or mortgage on it with a balance owed of $450,000, then this estate would be similar to Example #2 above because the appraised value of the property is $750,000 “without referent to encumbrances or other obligations on estate property.” Therefore, the Executor would be entitled to Executor’s fees of $18,000.

On the other hand, if the decedent’s Will makes a specific provision for the compensation of the Executor, then the compensation provided in the Will shall be the only compensation for the services of that Executor. However, the Executor can petition the court for authorization to receive a higher amount than the amount specified in the Will , and in such instances, “if the court determines that it is to the advantage of the estate and in the best interest of the persons interested in the estate”, under California Probate Code § 10802(d), the court may authorize the Executor to receive a greater amount “than the amount provided in the will.”

With certain exceptions, the probate attorney for the Executor usually receives the same amount as the Executor’s statutory fee.

The views expressed in this article do not contain legal advice, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. The information contained herein is provided for general information and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Should you need legal advice, contact Simon Law directly and request to speak to an attorney regarding your case.