Could you imagine doing a ton of work and not getting paid? It’s frustrating, but it happens. One of the drawbacks of nonprofessional executors is they are more likely to lose their executor fee, despite doing months, even years, of work for the estate.
In this podcast, we are going to discuss a few real-world instances where this happened. We want to help you see that this can happen and that you don’t want to take on the executor role expecting a nice piece of change for your hard work. It sounds like a decent payday, but as we’ve discussed before, the ratio of hours worked to amount paid is not equal, and you may not even get a penny.
Family changed their minds, denied his executor fee
In this case, “Joey’s” aunt passed away and the aunt was survived by siblings. Joey was not even an heir and didn’t even live in New York, but he was younger and financially savvy. He was in a position to defer his job offer to focus on being an executor. Of course, his family “graciously” agreed to have him serve as executor.
So, Joey moved from California to New York and deferred a legitimate job offer. He put in three years of hard work administering the complex estate. In the end, his uncles objected to Joey getting paid. Literally at the very end, right as disbursement checks were being written out. Yes, he did have the right to fight for this executor commission, but it would put the family at odds with each other. So, for the sake of preserving family harmony, Joey didn’t fight. He walked away.
For those that think this would never happen to them or to their families, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it happens often, unfortunately. Family drama can happen when you’re dealing with emotions and money.
Contested will, contested executor commission
In this second situation, “Linda” was named as executor in her aunt’s will. Some family members contested the will, and after a lengthy and expensive litigation, the family settled on a revised breakdown of their inheritance. Side note – this was a good case where the decedent should have made a better plan to omit them.
During all this time, Linda, as the executor, was doing all the grunt work for over a year to vacate, repair, and sell her aunt’s dilapidated house. She also had to deal with the very stressful process of evicting bad tenants.
She did a great job.
Again, at the very end, right as checks were about to be sent out in accordance with the negotiated settlement agreement, the contesting family objected to Linda getting an executor commission. So, the family litigated that too, and Linda unhappily eventually settled on a reduced commission because the legal fees would’ve kept adding up to keep fighting. We watched her work so hard to eventually get less than deserved. Could you imagine working your normal full-time job to then get notice of a large reduction at the end of the year?
Court denied her executor compensation
“Kristy’s” good friend named her executor because Kristy happened to be a lawyer (though not a probate lawyer). Her friend made a DIY will.
Only when her friend passed and Kristy began probate did she learn that since she’s a lawyer (even though she wasn’t a probate lawyer and wasn’t acting as a lawyer for her good friend), the will needed certain additional paperwork and affidavits. In the absence of this paperwork and affidavits, the Court cut Kristy’s executor compensation in half!
Kristy spent multiple stressful years dealing with her friend’s estranged yet demanding heirs, banking issues, and other complications. In Kristy’s own words, she said that being an executor was “not worth it,” and she was a little embittered to her friend for putting her in such stressful role.
These are a few reasons that we talk about professional executors. If using a professional executor, family dynamics wouldn’t be a factor and there would be less of a debate by the family regarding the executor receiving their fee.
To learn more about hiring a professional executor, so this doesn’t happen to a friend or family member, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon!
Request your free consultation