Legal fees vary, depending on the method of billing the lawyer uses; some bill by the hour and others bill in a lump sum. Today, experienced estate lawyers charge $500/hour. They may use a paralegal for a lot of the administrative work and bill their time at a lower rate.

The fees of trust companies vary, depending on whether they are appointed sole or co-executor in the Will or if they are hired as agents for the named executor.

If a trust company is told by the deceased, before their Will is executed, that they are to be named as executor or co-executor, then the trust company will insist on having their fees specified in the Will.

If the Will is silent on trust company compensation, their current fee schedule for executor services will apply.

If the trust company is being hired by the named executor to do all or part of the work, then their “agent for executor” fee schedule will apply. Agent for Executor fees depend on the nature and amount of work to be done.

Trust company fees also vary based on the size of the estate. Most large trust companies are most interested in estates with $3M + in net assets. Many “price to discourage” on smaller estates. Most have minimum fees and most charge at least 3% of the estate value; often higher.

Much of the work involved in settling an estate involves simple administrative tasks that can be done faster, easier and cheaper by the executor and family members rather than hiring a professional executor.

If the estate is contentious or involves complex assets, the executor may be well advised to retain a professional executor for least part of the work.  When hiring a professional, we strongly encourage the family to shop around and get a number of quotes.


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