What Percentage Should an Executor of an Estate Get?

The percentage of an estate that an executor will get will depend on the size of the estate, the terms of the will and the state where the estate resides. Executor compensation is determined by state statutory law, so compensation rates will be different everywhere. Generally, most executors are compensated somewhere between 2 to 4 per cent of the estate, but the percentage can be different if your state has special circumstances for low- or high-value estates.


An executor is an individual who is in charge of handling the matters of an estate. If you are appointed executor by will, you may decline the duties altogether and ask that another executor be appointed to the estate. In general, executors are in charge of accounting for all of the deceased's assets, initiating and finalising the probate process, notifying the deceased's creditors and distributing the assets of the estate to creditors and beneficiaries.

State Law

All states set executor compensation by statute, so you will need to check the law in your state. Executor compensation is usually set on a sliding scale, so executors receive a smaller percentage of larger estates. Courts may also play a role in determining how much an executor gets paid. However, keep in mind that some states allow the decedent to deny the executor compensation in the terms of his will. So in some instances, there could be no compensation available for serving as an executor.


In Pennsylvania, the executor of an estate can earn anywhere from 1/2 per cent to 5 per cent of the estate for performing their duties. The amount the executor will make depends on the size of the estate. For estates under £65,000 the executor will make 5 per cent. On the other end of the spectrum, for estates worth more than £2 million, the executor will make 1/2 per cent. In California, an executor can make between 1/2 per cent and 4 per cent of the estate, also based on the size of the estate. For estates under £65,000, executors make 4 per cent. At the high end, for estates up to £16 million, executors are paid 1/2 per cent of the estate.

Opting Out

If you serve as the executor of an estate you will be required to pay taxes on the compensation you receive. You have the ability to serve as executor and waive the fee, thereby leaving more money in the estate for distribution to the beneficiaries. This makes sense if you are the sole beneficiary of the estate and you will receive all of the distributions anyway.

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About the Author

Louis Kroeck started writing professionally under the direction of Andrew Samtoy from the "Cleveland Sandwich Board" in 2006. Kroeck is an attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specializing in civil litigation, intellectual property law and entertainment law. He has a B.S from the Pennsylvania State University in information science technology and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

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