Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

Fees paid to the personal representative

The executor or personal representative is the person responsible for managing the estate of a decedent. Even with simple estates, this individual has many duties.

In exchange for the person’s time and effort, the executor does receive a fee for conducting all the various aspects of the job. There are various ways the court will determine this amount.

Compensation stated in the will

If the decedent stated a fee in the will, this is the amount the court will allow the executor to take for him or herself.

Court-determined compensation

In the event the will does not name an executor fee, the California Courts determines an amount based on the gross value of the estate. An executor receives 4% of the first $100,000 of an estate, and the percentage decreases as the estate’s value rises. The executor receives 3% for the second $100,000, 2% for the next $800,000, 1% for the next $9 million and 1/2 of 1% of the next $15 million. If an estate’s value is $25 million or more, the court will determine the compensation amount.

Additional compensation for extraordinary services

The executor may also receive additional compensation for services above and beyond the basic duties. Examples of when a court may award this include:

        Financing, selling or foreclosing personal or real property

        Preparing tax returns

        Conducting business for the decedent

        Dealing with tax audits related to the estate

        Handling litigation related to tax liabilities of the estate or of the decedent


The amount of the compensation is at the discretion of the court. If the executor is also an attorney, this individual can only receive executor fees and not attorney fees as well, unless the court agrees to these additional fees in advance.

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