4 min read

How Much Does a Public Trustee Take from the Estate?

Discover the truth about how much the Public Trustee takes from an estate- getting the lowdown on fees, how they're calculated, and alternative options for estate administration. Read on to get the facts and make informed decisions about your estate planning with this comprehensive blog post.


When a person passes away, their assets and liabilities are usually collected and distributed among their family or beneficiaries listed on the Will.

Life, and death, can however hit when we least expect it. So in some cases, a loved one might have died without a Will, or with a Will which is not considered valid. In these situations, a public trustee may be appointed to manage the estate and distribute the assets.

At an already stressful time, one pressing question which often arises in these situations is how much the public trustee will take from the estate. To reduce your uncertainty and perhaps incentivise writing your Will- this article will provide answers to this question, and shed light on how public trustee fees are calculated.

What is the Public Trustee?

The Public Trustee is a government agency that provides a range of services to the public, including estate administration. The Public Trustee will step in to administer the estates of deceased persons who have no executor, or for people who are unable to manage their own affairs due to age, illness or disability.

The Public Trustee is an independent statutory authority, which means that it operates independently of government and is subject to a range of laws and regulations, including the Public Trustee Act and the Trustee Act.

How much does the Public Trustee take from the estate?

One major concern surrounding Public Trustees is how much they charge for estate administration services.

Generally, these fees are calculated based on a percentage of the gross value of the estate- however it’s worth noting that the final fee will be based on the size of the estate, the complexity of the administration and the services required.

Whilst every estate is different, this percentage of the estate fee is typically between 2.5% and 4.5% of the gross value of the estate. For larger estates, the percentage charged may be lower and for smaller estates, the percentage charged may be higher.

Why is the Public Trustee not free?

The fees charged by the Public Trustee are designed to cover the costs of administering the estate- including locating and valuing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the estate to beneficiaries. Administering an estate can be a costly and timely process, and the fees also cover any legal fees or other expenses incurred during the administration process.

Fee calculation

To get more specific; the fees charged by the Public Trustee are calculated based on a percentage of the gross value of the estate. Understanding what this means involves turning to what the gross value of the estate is- aka, the total value of all assets owned by the deceased person at the time of their death. This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and any other assets.

After calculating the gross value of the estate, the Public Trustee will then apply the relevant percentage fee.

For example, if the gross value of the estate is $500,000 and the Public Trustee charges a fee of 3.5%, the fee charged would be $17,500. This can then be increased based on legal or accounting fees, and also may be subject to change.

Why you should write your Will

Public trustees are an important safety net for those who die without a Will and family members able to take on the task of estate administration. Whilst representing an important service, it also takes away control of where your assets end up and who makes these calls.

Writing your Will and getting an estate plan in place is the best way to safeguard your assets, and support family and causes who leave behind. Offering more than just a way to plan out your assets, it’s an unmatched peace of mind and sense of certainty when it comes to the end.

Get started today

Take the first steps in writing your Will, and take a massive leap in building your legacy, when you start writing your estate plan today.

Call us on 1800 10 33 10 or get in touch via live chat, to get started now.

Last updated 22nd May 2023
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Hannah Comiskey
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