This is a subject which causes more and more discussion and people become more knowledgeable about Executor’s fees and how it is calculated.
As mentioned in previous articles, the maximum Executor’s fee is fixed by law. The current maximum permissible Executor’s fee is 3.5% of the gross estate value plus 14% VAT (should the Executor be registered for VAT).
It seems as though this fee is very fair or even at a very low percentage, but let us illustrate with an example:
Let us suppose that the gross estate value is R2 million. Due to the drastic increase in the value of fixed property over the last few years it is quite possible to attain a gross estate value of R2 million and very realistic if you own fixed property.
R2 million x 3.5% = R70 000-00
Plus 14% VAT = R9 800-00
Total Executor’s fee = R79 800-00
This Executor’s fee does not include any additional administrative costs such as transfer fees of the fixed property or funeral costs. Thus it becomes clear that the cost of administering an estate to the value of R2 million could easily escalate to R100 000. The result is that more and more individuals consider appointing the person who lives longest or another family member as Executor, assuming that the appointed Executor is then enabled to negotiate an Executor’s fee with an institution which will then act as the appointed Executor’s agent.
It does happen, however, that the appointed Executor (e.g. the surviving spouse) is not well-informed about the actions he/she should take when his/her spouse dies, therefore he/she often appoints the first agent who offers his/her services. No negotiation takes place and the agent imposes the maximum tariff as fixed by the law.
Our recommendation is therefore the following:
- Appoint the person who lives the longest or another family member as Executor of your estate, but ensure that the appointed Executor is fully aware of the fact that he/she may negotiate the Executor’s fee with an institution; or
- Should you have every confidence in an institution, appoint that institution as Executor of your estate, but negotiate beforehand and fix the agreed tariff in your will. Do not leave it up to any other person to negotiate Executor’s fees after you have passed away.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.