Executor fees are calculated as a percentage of the probate estate. The larger the estate, the lower the percentage paid to the executor. Percentages vary between jurisdictions, but they generally range from 0.5 to 6 percent of the estate, according to the law firm Fromhold, Jaffe & Adams.
Executor fees vary considerably across jurisdictions. For example, according to Fromhold, Jaffe & Adams, executor fees in Pennsylvania range from 5 percent for estates up to $50,000 to 0.5 percent for estates valued at more than $4 million. In New York, executors receive 5 percent for amounts up to $100,000 and 2.5 percent for amounts more than $4 million, states probate attorney Rudolph J. Karvay. In some jurisdictions, executor fees are fixed by law. Other jurisdictions abide by an informal schedule of reasonable compensation. Executors are advised to review their local statutes and to consult with an estate attorney in order to determine the schedule of executor fees in their jurisdiction.
Executors are not obligated to accept a fee for administering an estate. Many executors who also are beneficiaries of an estate decline the fee because it represents taxable income while the inheritance does not, states attorney John W. Callinan. Therefore, these executors may actually receive more money by refusing the commission. Executors are advised to consult with a tax adviser prior to deciding whether or not to accept a fee.