An executor is the person or entity who is responsible for the tasks involved in the estate administration process. Because the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over estate matters, the executor is accountable to the Surrogate’s Court and must seek approval of many of their actions. Other terms for the role include personal representative and estate administrator. In New York the executor of an estate is entitled to compensation for services rendered. In some cases, the decedent included provisions in their will related to the amount of compensation that executor is to receive. If the will is silent, or if the decedent died intestate, the compensation for the executor is based on a statutory framework. Note that compensation received by executors is taxable income.
The statutory compensation framework is based on the value of the probate estate. Excluded from the calculation are assets that are subject to specific bequests and real estate that is not sold by the executor. Added to the probate assets is any income received by the estate during administration.
- For receiving and paying out all sums of money not exceeding $100,000 at the rate of 5%
- For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $200,000 at the rate of 4%
- For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $700,000 at the rate of 3%
- For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $4,000,000 at the rate of 2½%
- For receiving and paying out all sums above $5,000,000 at the rate of 2%
SCPA § 2307 More Than One Executor
Whether the will named co-executors or the court appointed co-administrators, it is not unusual for there to be multiple administrators for an estate. Whether a single commission is apportioned among the co-executors or each receives their own commission depends on the size of the estate.
If the estate has a value that is less than $100,000, then the single fee must be divided among all the executor based on the services provided by each. This means that all the executors may not receive the same amount, but each will receive a portion of the single fee.
If the estate has a value of at least $100,000 but less than $300,000 and there are 2 executors, then each executor is entitled to the full fee allowed to a sole executor. However, if there are more than 2 executors, then 2 full fees must be divided among all the executors, based on the services provided each. However, if the executors agreed to a different arrangement for how to divide the fee, that agreement would govern.
If the estate has a value of at least $300,000 and there are 3executors, then each of the 3 executors would be entitled to the full fee allowed to a sole executor. However, if there are more than 3 executors, then 3 full fees must be divided among all the executors, based on the services provided each. If, the executors agreed to a different arrangement for how to divide the fee, that agreement would govern.
Work of the Executor
The compensation to which an executor is entitled is for the work they perform managing the decedent’s estate through the estate administration process. The executor must identify and inventory estate assets. Assets include personal property, real estate, and financial accounts. Only assets that are considered probate property are subject to the probate process and the executor’s management.
The executor must also notify creditors, giving them a timeframe to submit claims. The executor then is required to use estate assets to pay outstanding debt as well as the expenses related to administration. Finally, the executor distributes assets based on the terms of the will or New York’s law of intestate succession.
This, however, does not mean that the executor commission is multiplied by the number of executors. There is one commission for the work on the estate, regardless of how many people performed the work.