Probate Fees in Washington: Since 1917
Probate fees in Washington are currently provided under RCW 11.48.210 as follows:
•The amount set by the Decedent in his/her Will, or in the absence of such a specified amount
•The amount determined by the Court to be “reasonable and just.”
If the Decedent sets an amount for compensation in his/her Will, that in effect puts the named Personal Representative who desires to receive compensation to an election:
•Default Alternative: To accept that amount as full compensation regardless of the amount of work to be performed prospectively at the beginning of the probate or as actually performed retrospectively at the end of the probate, or
•Active Alternative: To renounce that amount and allow the Court to determine “reasonable and just” compensation, with any such renunciation required to be made in a writing filed with the Court prior to his/her appointment. For the form to accomplish this renunciation and election, see: If the Decedent Has Set an Amount for Compensation in his/her Will.
A third alternative exists, of course, and that is for the Personal Representative to waive compensation, which can be advantageous, especially if the Personal Representative is the sole Heir or Beneficiary, and the estate is not so large as to benefit from receiving a tax deduction for compensation paid. See: Tax Consequences of Payment of Compensation. For the form to accomplish this waiver, see: Is Compensation Required to be Paid?
In determining the amount of compensation, the Court will consider the nature of the services rendered, the time required to perform the services, the diligence with which the services are performed, and the values of the assets necessitating the rendition of service. Estate of Bailey, 56 Wn.2d 6223 (1960). And, as stated above, while the value of estate assets is taken into consideration, it is not to be given great weight in the determination of compensation. Estate of Perry, cited above.
The Court may also increase or decrease the amount of “reasonable and just” compensation to be paid to the Personal Representative:
•Subject to increase if the Personal Representative performs services benefiting the estate that are not required by law of a Personal Representative; examples: •Legal services,
•Brokerage services, etc.
•Subject to decrease if the Personal Representative “has failed to discharge his/her duties as such in any respect.”