Personal Representative / Executor Compensation
Administering an estate can be a time-consuming task and while a probate lawyer can help ease the burden, a Personal Representative (Executor) must take on responsibilities that can be stressful and challenging.
A Personal Representative’s primary responsibilities include:
- identifying assets and liabilities of the estate;
- administering and managing the estate;
- satisfying the debts and obligations of the estate; and
- distributing and accounting for the administration of the estate.
Those obligations entitles a Personal Representative to be compensated not only for the expenses they incur but for the time and effort involved.
How is a Personal Representative Compensated?
There is no flat fee for acting as a Personal Representative in Alberta. The Testator, the person who drafted the Last Will and Testament, may decide to leave a provision outlining compensation.
If the Will does not set out the rate of compensation for a Personal Representative, payment may be approved by the residual beneficiaries of an Estate or the PR can apply to the Court to set reimbursement.
As a Personal Representative you may request that the fee be paid as an hourly rate or a flat fee. However, any proposed compensation must be assessed as fair and reasonable in the context of the Estate and the work performed.
Different scenarios may arise depending on if the deceased left a Last Will and Testament and whether they left specific instructions for payment.
What Happens if There is a Will?
In most cases, the issue of PR compensation will be laid out in the Will. If you have appointed a Personal Representative you can decide to pay them a specific dollar amount or a percentage based on the value of the estate.
You may decide a fee is not required because the PR is a close friend or family member and they will serve out of a sense of obligation. If your Personal Representative is receiving a gift as a beneficiary this may be considered payment.
If you do not set out a plan for compensation it will be determined in the same manner it would be if you didn’t leave a Will.
What Happens if There is No Will?
If there was no valid Will or the deceased made no mention of compensation, the Personal Representative can suggest an amount based on the work they have done. This proposal must be sent to the beneficiaries of the estate for approval. If the beneficiaries reject it, the Personal Representative can ask the Court to authorize the payment.
Can a Personal Representative be Compensated for Expenses?
Even if there is no provision for a Personal Representative to be paid for their services, they are still entitled to be reimbursed for any expenses they incur. If you are administering an estate you may be expected to pay for such things as legal or professional fees, parking, travel and postage. It is a good idea to keep receipts to present to the estate for reimbursement.
You may be called upon to make a significant payment on behalf of the estate. Before you do, it is advisable to speak to the beneficiaries so there is no dispute when it comes to declaring the expense.
Are There Guidelines for Personal Representative Compensation?
Many Personal Representatives will rely on the Alberta Suggested Fee Guidelines. These guidelines have not been formally adopted by our legislation or Courts.
Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Surrogate Rules of Alberta outline the principles and guidelines relating to PR compensation.
Of note are the factors a Court must consider when determining what is fair and reasonable compensation for a Personal Representative, namely:
- the gross value of the estate;
- the amount of revenue receipts and disbursements;
- the complexity of the work involved and whether any difficult or unusual questions were raised;
- the amount of skill, labour, responsibility, technological support and
- specialized knowledge required;
- the time expended;
- the number and complexity of tasks delegated to others;
- the number of personal representatives appointed in the will, if any.
The Court has the authority to increase or reduce the amount of compensation for Personal Representatives depending on the circumstances of each estate. Alberta Courts have assessed Personal Representative fees in a number of cases, most recently, the Bruce Estate (Re), 2017 ABQB 67.
We Can Answer Your Personal Representative Questions
Our experienced lawyers can help with your estate planning and guide you through the estate administration process. Please contact our office for more information.