While there is no particular calculation set by statute, in Arizona an executor may be entitled to compensation as provided in a will, or to his or her “reasonable” fees and expenses. An executor is also entitled to receive from the estate “his necessary expenses and disbursements including reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred.”
Arizona Executor Fee Statute
Determination of executor’s fees in Arizona are based on § 14-3719 of the Arizona state code, entitled “Compensation of personal representative.” That statute provides:
“A personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for his services. If a will provides for compensation of the personal representative and there is no contract with the decedent regarding compensation, he may renounce the provision before qualifying and be entitled to reasonable compensation [as determined by the Court].”
§ 14-3720 of Arizona state code, entitled “Expenses in estate litigation,” on the other hand, provides:
“If any personal representative or person nominated as personal representative defends or prosecutes any proceeding in good faith, whether successful or not he is entitled to receive from the estate his necessary expenses and disbursements including reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred.”
See Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) § 14-3719 and § 14-3720 (2013).
In Arizona, “reasonable” is usually construed by a judge, and may be based upon, among other things, the market rate for similar services in the locality.
You can find the relevant codes or explore the full statute on the official state website here: Arizona State Legislature, Revised Statutes, Title 14 (Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings)
Selected Arizona Case Law Regarding Executor Fees
Fees Not Granted As a Matter of Right
An executor is not entitled to fees as a matter of right in Arizona. One case explains the standard of review:
“Whether and to what extent such fees should be allowed is a question best left to the probate court to decide in the sound exercise of its discretion on a case-by-case basis . . . We do not hold that as a matter of fact and law [that an attorney is] entitled to an award of fees in [a probate case].”
See Fiduciary Servs. v. Shano (In re Estate of Shano), 177 Ariz. 550, 558-559 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1993) (emphasis in original) (citing In re Estate of Brown, 137 Ariz. 309 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1983).
Stated differently, each case must be evaluated on its own, and an executor should not assume that he or she will automatically receive his or her proposed executor fees.