Executor Compensation and Fees (DE)
If the will does not specify how executor compensation should be calculated, DE estates must follow state compensation rules (see DE calculator below).
In Delaware, the estate executor is known as a "personal representative".
Delaware statute says that executor compensation must be "reasonable", and that consideration may be given to factors such as:
- Nature of the work involved (time, effort, difficulty, skills required)
- Compensation customarily charged (in the community for similar services)
- Size of the estate
- Any time limitations
- Experience and capabilities of the person
Delaware statute specifically goes on to state that fees shall not be considered unreasonable merely because they are based exclusively on hourly rates, exclusively on the value of the probate estate, or exclusively on the value of the assets includible in the estate for the purpose of any tax.
It's common in DE to use a "services-rendered" approach, and bill by the hour (the hourly rate can be determined according to the factors above). Executors have also traditionally set fees as a percentage of the overall estate value (see below). Whatever approach you decide, it is important that you keep detailed records of your efforts in case you need to justify your fee in court:
- Nature of the task (e.g., Drove to bank to get medallion stamp for IBM stock)
- Amount of time spent (e.g., 2 hours)
- Hourly rate for the task (e.g., $35/hour)
- Results (e.g., sold the car for Blue Book value)
While compensation varies greatly according to a variety of factors, the calculator below indicates that a typical fee for a $100K estate that required 200 hours of standard work might be around $5K, and for a $1M estate that required 550 hours of standard work and 80 hours of professional labor, $34K might be appropriate.
Whatever the executor decides to pay himself or herself is automatically deemed reasonable, unless an heir objects, in which case the court will make a determination.
See Delaware Court of Chancery Rules, Rule 192.
DE Compensation Calculator
EstateExec provides the following executor compensation estimator for DE estates, but please keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules for DE estates, and ultimately you must determine what would be reasonable for your particular circumstances. By using this estimator, you acknowledge that EstateExec provides any results as informational input only, not as legal advice, and cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies for, or misunderstandings about, any given estate.
Below EstateExec provides two compensation approaches: you can decide which, if either, is appropriate for you. The first uses a sliding percentage scale based on the total estate gross value (the larger the estate, the smaller the percentage); the second simply compensates the executor for the value of his or her time. See estimation methodology for details.
See also Compensation for general remarks on executor compensation.