An Illinois executor fees lawyer will advise you that someone who serves in this important role of executor in closing up all of the estate administration tasks is entitled to receive compensation for their services. 755 ILCS 5/27-1. Where this question most frequently comes up is in the context of a beneficiary of an estate who is concerned that an Illinois executor has been improperly paid or has drained funds from the overall estate in taking compensation for their work.
Understanding the Role of Executor in Illinois
An Illinois estate executor takes on multiple different roles in the closing out of a deceased person’s estate. These numerous responsibilities include collecting and safeguarding estate assets, determining the strength and accuracy of claims from creditors, paying off those claims and distributing assets as explained in the will. While there are some estates that are simple or small enough that make it easy for an executor to probate the estate, others can require months or even years of grueling work.
This can become even more complicated when someone initiates a will contest or other form of probate dispute. If a person has been appointed as an executor for a deceased party in Illinois, they are entitled to receive compensation because of this work. It is often difficult for people who are instilled in this role to recognize the level of payment that they are able to receive. In certain states, for example, the executor is eligible to be paid a percentage of the estate as their overall fees. Illinois has another approach when it comes to this because an executor is not eligible to be paid a certain percentage of the estate. Rather they are entitled to what is known as reasonable compensation and each situation will dictate what counts as reasonable compensation.
Calculating Reasonable Fees
As an executor fees attorney in Illinois can tell you, the Illinois probate act does not go into explicit details about the instructions on how to calculate reasonable compensation. Different factors have been counted as reasonable compensation through Illinois courts, most frequently when this comes up over arguments over whether or not a fee was reasonable. Even an estate with few assets could be extremely complex to sort through, meaning that Illinois courts won’t let an executor to use a set percentage to ensure that the executor is paid appropriately.
How is Reasonable Compensation Determined?
In determining what counts as reasonable compensation, a judge will look at multiple reasons, including:
- Whether the issues involved in probating the estate were simple or complex.
- Any unique aspects of the estate and whether or not the executor ever had to go above and beyond.
- How much total time the executor spent administering the estate.
Recordkeeping for Executors
For beneficiaries, there may be questions about the role that the executor has played and whether or not they have truly logged all of the hours that they claimed. Executor should know that it is helpful to keep a time log of their effort as well as any other probate matters, conflicts or issues that come up in administering the estate. This can be very helpful in the event that they need to provide it to the court. It should be as detailed as possible when it comes to detailing the work they completed. An executor can then use these details to make a strong argument for a fair payment which is usually related to an hourly rate.
Executors in Illinois have been paid up to $50 an hour with the higher end of that being associated with more complex related tasks. Since the estate pays the fee of the executor, an executor fees attorney serving Illinois might need to be retained on behalf of the beneficiaries. Some beneficiaries might object to the total amount because it will reduce what they can inherit. A dispute could end up before a judge.