From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the co-executor of my mother’s Lehigh County, Pennsylvania estate, along with her attorney. What fee can he charge?
First, if your mother’s attorney is serving as the executor and will also be providing your mother’s estate legal services in Lehigh County, the attorney should not be charging both fees:
- an executor’s fee and
- a fee for legal services based solely on a percentage of the estate.
Pennsylvania has not adopted a statutory fee for legal or executor services based on a percentage of the estate’s assets, but there is a case, which we refer to as “The Johnson Estate,” that spells out a guideline for how attorneys and executors should charge for their services.
This is a guideline, not the law. If a case is much easier or much harder than usual, then the reasonable fee could be much lower or higher than what The Johnson Estate describes. Our firm’s general policy is to bill hourly for services, which I believe is more reasonable. Further, if a client asks me to serve as executor I will ask the client how I should be compensated. Often, they want me to bill hourly. If so, I will document that in the will itself. In the end, the attorney’s fee for serving as executor and for legal services to the estate as a probate attorney should be “reasonable,” but how those fees will be calculated—flat fee or hourly—should be agreed to in the beginning.
If you have questions about avoiding Probate in Lehigh County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.