Estate Administration—Hourly Billing
When we are involved in the settlement of an estate, we are usually working on behalf of an executor or trustee selected by the decedent prior to his or her death. The person you select as your executor or trustee should have the following traits: honesty and integrity, diligence, organizational skills, practical everyday wisdom, a diplomatic temperament, and the humility to seek professional help if the person is ever called upon to serve as executor or trustee. Most of our clients have such persons in their lives.
We regularly are hired to assist such persons with their duties as executor or trustee. In those cases, we bill for our services at our normal hourly rates. Thomas Nolan’s current billing rate is $275 per hour. Most of the day-to-day assistance is provided by one of our three estate administration paralegals. Their billing rates are $135 per hour.
Should You Consider a Professional Executor?
Occasionally our clients inquire about the possibility of having Tom Nolan serve as executor of an estate or trustee of a trust established under the client’s estate plan. The ethical guidelines to which all Virginia attorneys are subject require that we encourage our clients to consider all of the alternatives available to them before selecting an executor or trustee. Those who might serve include a trusted member of your family or close personal friend, a bank or trust company, even another law firm. Keep in mind that a family member or friend who is not able to perform certain tasks can hire an attorney or accountant to assist with those tasks. You should compare the potential fees of the persons or organizations you are considering naming as executors and trustees.
If you would like to consider us for this role, please contact us so we may set a time to meet. Generally speaking, when we serve as executor of an estate or as trustee of a trust, we charge for our services in one of two ways, (i) on an hourly basis, or (ii) pursuant to a fee based on a fee schedule. We have reproduced our fee schedule below.
Executor and Trustee Fee Schedule
Estate Administration. For services as executor or trustee rendered in the administration of an estate, where assets pass under a will or trust or by intestacy, our fee will be based upon a percentage of the value of the gross estate for federal estate tax purposes, as determined in accordance with federal estate tax guidelines. Our current fees are determined as set forth below:
- 5% on first $ 500,000
- 4% on next $ 500,000
- 3% over $1,000,000
However, when we serve as executor of small estates, we reserve the right to determine our fee on an hourly basis, in lieu of a fee based upon a percentage of the estate. When we bill in this manner, our fee is computed at 130% of the normal hourly billing rates of the attorneys and paralegals engaged in the administration of the estate. We bill a premium over our normal hourly rates because of the risks inherent in serving as executor.
Trust Administration. For services as trustee in the ongoing administration of a trust, our annual fee will be based upon a percentage of the fair market value of assets of the trust. Our current fees are determined as set forth below:
- 0.30% on first $1,000,000
- 0.25% over $1,000,000
We reserve the right to charge a minimum annual trustee’s fee of $2,500 on trusts we administer.
Supplementary Services. We charge for certain supplementary services at an hourly rate or at a flat fee that is in addition to our annual trustee’s fee. Supplementary services include:
- Court accountings preparation $135 per hour
- Tax accountings preparation $135 per hour
- Annual tax return preparation $135 per hour
Professional Investment Advisor.
We are not professional investment advisors. When we serve as executor or trustee, we employ a professional investment advisor to manage the investments of any estate or trust under our control. We are willing to select a competent investment advisor recommended by the grantor or the beneficiaries of the trust. Please note that the fees of the investment advisor are in addition to the fees of the executor or the trustee.