Executor Compensation and Fees (SC)

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If the will does not specify how executor compensation should be calculated, SC estates must follow state compensation rules (see SC calculator below).

How Much Should an Executor be Paid in SC?

In South Carolina, the estate executor is known as a "personal representative". In the absence of specified compensation in the will, South Carolina statute sets commissions to at most 5% of:

  • Personal assets (excluding any with named beneficiaries)
  • Real estate sold (as authorized by the will or the court)
  • Estate income (income generated by the estate while being settled)

In practice, the percentage commission often depends on overall estate size and relative complexity. For example:

  • 5.0% on the first $250K
  • 4.0% on the next $750K
  • 3.0% on the next $1M
  • 2.0% on the next $2M
  • 1.5% on the anything more

So, for example, a South Carolina estate of standard complexity with relevant assets of $300K would normally yield $14.5K in executor fees, one with $800K would generate $34.5K, and a $1.5M estate would generate $57.5K. But the law does allow up to 5% in total.

Regardless of all of the above, the minimum executor fee is $50 (unless waived).

See South Carolina Code of Laws § 62-3-719.

SC Compensation Calculator

EstateExec provides the following executor compensation estimator for SC estates, but please keep in mind that circumstances may vary, and that there may be special situations addressed by local custom or law. 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.

You can use this calculator now, but if you use EstateExec to help you track the settlement process, it will automatically perform the calculations to provide inputs for the fields below (you can create an estate for free).

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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.

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