In Washington, D.C., an executor is the person who is appointed by the probate court. to complete the tasks necessary to settle the estate of someone who has died. Other terms for the job of an executor is a personal representative or administrator. If the decedent left a will, they are often referred to as an executor or executrix. If they did not leave a will, they are often referred to as an administrator. Personal representative is the general term to describe the role, regardless of whether they were named the will and regardless of the circumstances surrounding their appointment.
In Washington, D.C. the process of estate administration can take 8-12 months. If the estate is complicated or if there is litigation during the process, it can take longer. For their work during the estate administration process, personal representatives are entitled to compensation. The compensation of a personal representative (executor, administrator) is also referred to as a commission. If you have been appointed to serve as a personal representative, contact an experienced Washington, D.C. executor commission lawyer to help ensure that you understand your legal obligations.
Tasks of the Personal Representative in Washington, D.C.
The personal representative is responsible for performing the tasks necessary to wrap up the decedent’s business. This includes identifying the decedent’s assets, inventorying it, and managing it. It also includes paying the decedent’s debts and the expenses related to administration. Finally, the personal representative is required to oversee the distribution of estate assets to the appropriate individuals based on the terms of the decedent’s will or based on Washington, D.C.’s law of intestate succession.
While in most cases estate administration involves routine tasks, in some instances there are complications that require the personal representative to perform extraordinary work. For example, if litigation is required, the personal representative is required to be involved in that process. Note that if litigation is necessary, the personal representative should enlist the help of an experienced Washington, D.C. executor commission lawyer.
Personal Representative Commission in Washington, D.C.
A personal representative in the District of Columbia is entitled to reasonable compensation for their services. D.C. Code Ann. § 20-751. Unlike in some other jurisdictions, the District of Columbia statute does not define “reasonable compensation” in terms of a percentage of the value of the estate. Instead, it provides guidance for determining a personal representative’s compensation.
Decedent’s will. If the decedent left instructions in their will as the how much the personal representative is to be compensated, that court is required to follow that instruction. For example, the will might say that the personal representative is entitled to a flat fee or it might say that the personal representative is entitled to a percentage of the value of the estate.
Absence of a will. If the decedent did not leave a will or the will did not specify the amount of compensation for the personal representative, then the court will have to determine what’s reasonable. As an experienced executor commission attorney serving Washington, D.C. will explain, typically the personal representative will prepare a bill and submit it to the court for review and approval.
The bill should be quite detailed, including information such as the hours worked and the tasks performed. It should also include the value of the estate at the time of the decedent’s death and at tend of the administration. It is important for the court to know the financial impact on estate assets of the work of the personal representative.
Factors the court will consider in determining whether a submitted fee was reasonable included:
- Value of the estate
- Hours worked
- Tasks performed
- Skill involved
- Extraordinary tasks such as defending or initiating litigation
- Compensation generally paid for similar work
Reject Provisions of the Will. If the decedent’s will provided for compensation, the personal representative has the right to renounce all are part of the compensation provisions of the will. D.C. Code Ann. § 20-751. They can instead choose to be compensated based on the statutory reasonable compensation standard. Because there is a specific manner that a renunciation must be completed, contact an experienced executor commission attorney in Washington, D.C. to help you file the proper paperwork and pay the proper fee.