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Serving as executor is a huge responsibility. It is for that reason that it is written into the law in New York that when a person serves as executor, they are entitled to a commission that equals a percentage of the estate based on the total amount of that estate. Determining the amount of the total estate when it comes to figuring out how much the commission is isn’t as simple as just adding up everything that the decedent had any sort of ownership interest in. There are rules in place as to what it is that counts towards the “estate”, at least as far as determining commission is concerned.

One area where there is no “yes” or “no” answer when it comes to how the size of the estate will be determined for executor commission purposes is when real property is concerned. For that, whether the value of that real property is added into the estate really counts on how that property was owned.

If real property, such as a house, is owned by the decedent alone and is not left to anyone in the will, it would be considered part of the estate, meaning that the value of the house would be added to the estate value when it comes to determining how much the percentage will be for the commission.

However, if real property were owned jointly, such as when spouses own a home together, that property would not be considered part of the estate, meaning that the value of that property would not be included when determining the commission for the executor.

If a piece of real property is specifically left to someone in a will, such as when a grandfather who owns an apartment leaves it to their grandchild in his will, the value of that property would also not be included when determining the size of the estate for figuring out the commission.

Where this can be confusing is when someone owns many pieces of property when they die and those pieces of property are all owned different ways. Coming up with a commission in that case may not be so simple, mainly because some property would be included when coming up with the amount of the commission while other property would be left out.

Adding more money to the estate for purposes of determining the commission is important for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is that if the estate is larger the commission will be larger. But the actual percentage that is given to the executor changes depending on the size of the estate also. For example, for an estate that is $500,000, 5% of the estate would be the commission for the first $100,000. For the second $200,000, the rate would be 4%. For the rest of the estate, in this example $200,000, the percentage would be 3%.

What this means is that the executor does not get a simple flat percentage of the entire estate, but rather a graduated amount based on the total. When you start adding in real property, especially from a place like Long Island or New York City where the property value may add a significant amount to the estate, this can make a huge difference in the amount the executor collects. Because of the complexity of figuring out executor commissions, finding a great Long Island estate attorney is essential. If you need help from a Long Island estate attorney, call us at (516) 777-0647.


Totten Trusts on Long Island

July 23, 2014

Totten trusts stem from a 1904 New York case where the Court of Appeals held that someone could open up a financial account, such as a bank account or securities account, and make someone the beneficiary of that account, giving the beneficiary access to it only after the owner died. Sometimes these are also referred [...]

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How Do I Find Assets That are Hidden From an Estate?

June 10, 2014

When a Long Island decedent passes away, the executor or personal representative of the estate must located all of the decedent’s assets. This may entail finding hidden assets that the family may not have been aware of which the decedent may have held in the decedent’s sole name at the time of death. The personal [...]

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What are the Responsibilities of a Trustee?

May 29, 2014

A trustee is appointed by the maker of the trust and maintains the position on a long term basis unless the trustee is removed for good cause, resigns or dies. The trustee is considered a fiduciary and must at all times at in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The trustee must manage the trust [...]

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Who is Entitled to Receive a Copy of a Trust on Long Island

April 8, 2014

Since trusts are not part of the public records, the only persons entitled to copies of a trust instrument are beneficiaries. A beneficiary could make a request that the trustee provide a third party with a copy, but the trustee does not necessarily have to comply. The trustee has the discretion to decide who gets [...]

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What Are the Rights of Surviving Heirs in a Long Island Estate?

April 3, 2014

A Long Island decedent’s heirs such as the decedent’s children, surviving spouse, parents, siblings, grand children, aunts, uncles and cousins may have an interest in claiming an inheritance in the decedent’s estate. Depending upon whether the decedent left a will or died intestate (without a will) will determine the rights of surviving heirs to inherit [...]

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Who Should You Use to Witness Your Will?

April 1, 2014

New York law requires that you use two witnesses over the age of 18 years who are deemed mentally competent to witness your Long Island will. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries to the will or the attorney preparing the will to avoid any conflicts of interest that another interested party could claim invalidates your [...]

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How Does a Pour Over Will Work?

March 13, 2014

When you make a will and/or trust disposing of your Long Island estate assets, you may want to think about making a pour over will at the same time. A pour-over will is prepared in conjunction with a trust and allows for the transfer of any assets that you may hold in your sole name [...]

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How Can I Act as an Executor Before Letters Testamentary Have Been Granted to Me?

February 28, 2014

After a Long Island decedent passes away, and the decedent’s will has been located, the executor appointed in the will can file a Petition for Probate with the Nassau County or Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court asking the Court to issues preliminary letters and appointment as temporary administrator of the decedent’s estate before letters testamentary are [...]

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How Does a No-Contest Clause Work in a Long Island Will?

December 27, 2013

If a beneficiary is getting less then they would have gotten if not for this will (i.e. by intestacy or under a prior will), there’s always a chance that they will challenge the will. Furthermore, anyone with an interest in your Long Island estate can contest the will if they have the standing. While not [...]

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