Executors can write off meals and other travel expenses when traveling for the express purpose of managing an estate, but the more expenses an executor charges to an estate, the more likely an executor is opening themself up to claims by the beneficiaries that you’re being self-serving.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise your right to be reimbursed, just that you need to be smart about it. If you do choose to charge meals and other travel expenses, keep careful track of every receipt and purchase, make sure they are reasonable and couldn’t be considered extravagant, were clearly necessary, and were only incurred when expressly acting on behalf of the estate, e.g. a meal when driving to the probate court that is a few hours away.
- Executors can write off/be reimbursed for meals, gas, and other travel expenses as long as they keep careful track of each receipt and the expenses were incurred during express estate business.
- While you can be reimbursed for these expenses, remember that if you are an executor who is also a beneficiary, you are taking from the collective inheritance pool that will be divided between beneficiaries.
- The more you charge an estate, the more suspicions you may raise from beneficiaries and probate judges, and you may have to explain individual expenses.
- If the executor pays out-of-pocket expenses while performing estate business, they have a legal right to reimbursement before creditors are paid. This way you aren’t left high and dry just for helping close an estate.
What expenses can executors and personal representatives write off or be reimbursed for?
There are way more executor expenses than meals you can be reimbursed for.
Here are some of the others:
- Burial plot purchase
- Tombstone purchase
- Casket purchase
- Funeral home expenses
- Costs of the funeral service
- Cost of filing notice to creditors
- Paying for copies of the death certificate
- Transporting the body to the burial location
- Any debts you paid off on behalf of the estate
- Gas while traveling for the estate
- Death taxes
- Certain charitable gifts after death
- Fees paid to a trustee
- Fees paid to probate attorneys and accountants
- Expenses for the management, conservation, and maintenance of the property
- Expenses accrued for the determination, collection, or refund of the estate’s tax liability
- Probate court fees
- Filing Fees
- Notary Fees
- Travel fees
- Costs of selling assets (e.g. any costs while selling a house)
- Legal fees
- Helpful Probate Software, Resources & Tools
- Any other professional help
- Other related costs when working on behalf of the estate
The bottom line on executors getting reimbursed for meals
You can absolutely get reimbursed for meals and other travel expenses when acting on behalf of the estate, just make sure they are reasonable and you keep careful records of each transaction, when they occurred, and why they are justifiable.
Some people find keeping receipts and track of these expenses worth it, for others, it may not be worth the hassle — especially if relationships between beneficiaries and executors are fragile. If you feel like it would be poking a sleeping bear and you don’t need the money that much, maybe let it go.
If money is tight and your relationship with beneficiaries is great, then you definitely should. And beyond smaller expenses like meals and gas, you should absolutely get paid back for any larger expenses like flights, professional services, and other major executor expenses.