Executor Compensation and Fees (HI)Show Table of Contents
If the will does not specify how executor compensation should be calculated, HI estates must follow state compensation rules (see HI calculator below).
How Much Should an Executor be Paid in HI?
In Hawaii, the estate executor is known as a "personal representative".
In determining executor fees, the state of Hawaii uses the commonly accepted principle of "reasonable" compensation, and says nothing further in the law. In practice, this means that the following factors are often considered:
- Nature of the work involved (time, effort, difficulty, skills required)
- Compensation customarily charged (in the community for similar services)
- Size of the estate (and the results obtained)
- Any time limitations
- Experience and capabilities of the person
It's common in HI 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); in fact, calculating fees as a percentage of the estate was previously mandated by law. 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)
To make all this a little more concrete, an HI estate worth $500K that required 650 hours of effort might generate $19K in executor fees (see calculator below).
Even if a will specifies the compensation for the executor (and there is no contract with the decedent regarding compensation), the executor may renounce the relevant provision before being assigned executor, and be entitled to reasonable compensation.
HI Compensation Calculator
EstateExec provides the following executor compensation estimator for HI estates, but please keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules for HI 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) and its complexity; 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.
Executor Compensation Considerations
Timing: Generally, any executor compensation is paid during the final stages of estate distribution, as one of the last things the executor does. Be careful in situations in which there is not enough to pay yourself and all other outstanding debts, as this may expose you to legal issues. However, in most states, executor compensation has precedence over almost all other debts (for example, in NY, only funeral expenses have a higher precedence).
Communication: You may wish to discuss your compensation with the other heirs early during the process, so they don't end up surprised and unhappy when they notice their shares are somewhat less than expected. You may also want to leave the door open to modify your planned compensation as the process unfolds and you determine how much or how little work will actually be required on your part.
Optional: Keep in mind that collecting executor fees is optional. Even if the will specifies compensation, or if state laws support specific fees, the executor can choose to forego that compensation, and many do. That being said, serving as an executor is A LOT of work, and there's a reason that state laws support such compensation.
Tax Optimization: One reason an executor might choose to forego explicit compensation is that executor compensation is taxable, while inheritances are generally not taxable. Consequently, if the entire estate (or a large portion of it) is going to be inherited by the executor, you may end up with more after-tax value if you forego executor compensation.
Trusts: Note that trustee compensation for managing a trust is handled differently than that of executor compensation for settling an estate (see Trustee Compensation).
Expense Reimbursement: An executor is also entitled to reimbursement from estate proceeds for legitimate and reasonable estate administration costs, such as death certificate copies, notarization of documents, the EstateExec licensing fee, and even travel costs strictly associated with managing the estate. Once you have established an estate banking account, you can often pay for these costs directly from that account, so that no reimbursement is necessary, but you should keep good records in case you later have to justify your expenditures to the IRS or to estate heirs. Executor expenses can be reimbursed when desired, although certain probate proceedings may require prior approval. While executor expenses are generally not considered when calculating executor compensation (i.e., executor fees), if the executor incurs substantial costs paying for services that would normally be directly handled by an executor, a probate judge may sometimes require that the default executor fee be reduced accordingly.