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What fee to pay trustee of irrevocable trust?

El Centro, CA |

My sister (a paralegal) is trustee to mom's irrevocable trust. funds are managed by an investment firm. She files the monthly statement and occasionally writes a check. There is not much else to the trust. How do we calculate her "fee" since she only "manages" paperwork, etc, and not any of the funds in the trust?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. The Trustee's fees are generally dictated by the trust agreement. If the trust agreement says nothing of how much to pay the trustee, then the trustee gets paid a "reasonable compensation under the circumstances." In fact, trust agreements usually say something like "the trustee shall be paid reasonable fees for time spent administering the trust." So what does "reasonable" mean? Obviously, there is room left open for discretion. What is considered reasonable to one person in one area might not be reasonable to another person in a different area. What is the hourly rate of professional trustees in the area? Obviously professional trustees are entitled to higher pay than non-professional trustees, right? No? Perhaps a paralegal is entitled to more than a non-professional trustee but not as much as a professional trustee? Or perhaps the paralegal is entitled to the same pay as a professional trustee. Basically, the trustee needs to sit down and figure out what a reasonable rate is in the area she is at (unless the trust instrument says otherwise).

    This is not legal advice. This is to be used for educational purposes only.


  2. As attorney Famulary says, it will likely be based on what is reasonable. If the trust doesn't specify, the reasonableness will be determined on the amount of time that the trustee actually spends administering it, the complexity of the trust, any special expertise that the trustee has, and typical rates of other trustees.

    This response is for information only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Responses are general in nature, and may not apply to your specific fact situation. Without knowing all of the facts, I cannot be sure that this response is actually the best course of action for you.


  3. The answer to your question is found in the Trust document itself. Have an Estate Planing attorney review the trust and discuss it with you and your sister. Good Luck!


  4. As other attorney's have answered above, the fees are typically set out in the trust document or in a valid codicil. You should review the trust document and ensure that there is such a provision. Absent any provision, the fees that may be charged for trust work are typically "capped" by statute, or other local laws. If you believe that something is wrong you can always find an attorney that does free consultations and make a determination and subsequent decision based on the information you obtain from the attorney. good luck.

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