When executors of a last will and testament (known as personal representatives in Florida) agree to carry out the last wishes of a loved one, their motivations typically aren't financial. They take up the position to honor the deceased person and to make sure everything is done properly and in accordance with the law.
However, the administrative responsibilities of settling an estate can be like a part-time job for the personal representative—one they cannot quit until all the tasks are done. Fortunately, state law allows a personal representative to get paid for their role in the probate process.
Compensation for a Personal Representative in Florida
In order to ensure that personal representatives are fairly compensated, Florida Statutes set strict rules on when, how, and how much you could be paid.
Here are a few things you should know about collecting payment for acting as a personal representative:
- Your fee is for your time and effort. There are a wide variety of duties involved with closing a person's estate, including providing an accounting to the beneficiaries and settling the deceased person's debts. The executor fee compensates you for your time, not your out-of-pocket costs.
- You can recover the full amount of your expenses. If you have incurred any out-of-pocket expenses (such as funeral home costs, flowers, memorial service deposits, mileage and transportation, etc) you have the right to be reimbursed by the estate for the full value of these costs.
- You have the right to be paid before other creditors. State law also outlines the order in which creditors should be paid after a person passes away. Executor fees and probate attorney fees are in the first tier, so you can collect compensation before paying off other debts.
- Your fee is based on the value of the estate. Your commission is based on the inventory value of the probate estate assets, as well as any income earned by the estate during administration. If the estate value is $1 million or less, your fee is 3% of the estate assets. If the estate value is between $1 million and $5 million, your fee is 2.5% of the estate assets. If the estate value is between $5 million and $10 million, your fee is 2% of the estate assets. For assets over $10 million, the fee is 1.5% of of those assets. Keep in mind that assets that pass outside of probate (such as trust assets, 401Ks, or life insurance benefits) are not included in these calculations.
- You may be paid for any "extraordinary services." Florida law allows a personal representative to be compensated for actions going above and beyond normal duties. Such actions might include the sale of real estate or personal property, involvement in court proceedings for tax payments, self-preparing tax returns, the continuation of the deceased's business functions, dealing with a protected homestead, or acting as your own legal representative in litigation involving the estate.
- You can petition the court for a higher fee. If more work has been done, a personal representative can petition the courts for additional payment. Before awarding any more compensation, the court will consider the circumstances and complexity of the estate administration, as well as how quickly and efficiently you performed your duties.
- Your attorney will help you. As part of any formal probate administration, your attorney will help explain what the personal representative is entitled to.
Let Us Guide You Through Estate Administration
As experienced probate attorneys, we know how long a complicated administration can take—and we know how costly an error in the process can be. If you need help, contact us today to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions, or read through our free book, Navigating the Florida Probate Process.