Probate and the Personal Representative, A Series: Part III, Does the Personal Representative Get Paid?

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Minnesota Probate Attorney Explains Compensation for a Personal Representative 

Your sister asks if you will act the personal representative for her estate if anything happens to her. She passes away and you are now faced with having to navigate the legal minefield of probate. Can you get paid for handling these matters? Yes you can!

Your fee is (loosely) defined by Minnesota probate law. Naturally, the law doesn’t provide much guidance on how much you can pay yourself. It simply says, “[a] personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for services.”

What does “reasonable” mean?

It’s not really clear. The courts have generally stated that they know an unreasonable fee when they see one. But, they have failed to provide guidance on what constitutes a reasonable fee.

I often suggest to clients that they state the fee they want to get up front to the rest of the family so there is no argument later.  This can be a flat amount of the estate ($5,000) or an hourly fee and the PR can simply track their time spent working on the probate.

Please keep in mind that the above is an explanation for payment to you for acting as Personal Representative. That is separate and apart for reimbursing you for any fees/costs you incur for the Estate. A personal representative is always entitled to be reimbursed for any expenses related to the probate. For instance, paying for filing fees, copies of the death certificate, publishing fees, attorney’s fees, accountant fees etc.…

Are fees received for acting as personal representative taxable?  See the next post for the answer.

Work with a Minnesota probate lawyer to ensure that you are getting paid a fair amount for the work you put in to handling an estate.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.