Does a beneficiary have to approve the executor's fee?
It’s a small estate, but I’m not sure if that matters….
Yes. Before the executor distributes the estate, they have to give the beneficiaries a final accounting of their administration of the estate, including any fee they're charging. And the beneficiaries must agree with it for the executor to proceed. See step 9 in the steps to settle an estate.
If a fee isn't specified in the will for the executor, there are maximums that can be charged — it's typically 5% of the value of the assets in the estate. Check out this guidance from Vancity on executor fees.
If you disagree with the fee being charged, then you'll have to apply to court to get the fee reviewed or fixed. Whether the 5% maximum can be taken by an executor in all cases (even for smaller and simpler estates) can depend on the context. Here are some free or low-cost options for legal advice if you want to find a lawyer to advise on your situation.