Serving as an Agent under a Power of Attorney (or Attorney in Fact) in Pennsylvania is a decision that comes with great power and responsibility. The Agent must act on the principal’s behalf and will be held to the highest standard of loyalty and duty under Pennsylvania law. For serving as Power of Attorney, Agents are almost always authorized to receive a fee in Pennsylvania. Exactly how much are agents entitled to? This is a question both principals and agents frequently ask.
In this relationship, the principal sets the terms. If the document has not been drafted, the principal can state the compensation (such as a specified hourly rate), provide a flexible term (such as “reasonable”), or specify that the Agent is to receive no compensation at all. If the power of attorney in question has not been drafted, the above and many more compensation terms are possible with the help of an experienced Pennsylvania estate planning attorney.
More often than not, people ask this question after the fact. If the power of attorney has been signed, the first place to look is the document. There is almost always a clause stating how the Agent is to be compensated. In most cases, the principal provides for flexible compensation, such as “reasonable.” This provides the flexibility in the case the Agent has to do extraordinary work, such as managing all the principal’s affairs while in a coma, all the way to simple actions, such as paying the mortgage while the principal is traveling abroad.
“Reasonable” is also the default compensation when no term has been specified, or when the court determines the document is ambiguous. In Pennsylvania, judge’s opinions set the standards for what courts declare “reasonable” or “unreasonable.” Just as our state features a diversity of communities and landscapes, judges’ opinions on these matters can vary wildly from county to county, especially under complex circumstances. We will provide examples of what reasonable Pennsylvania Power of Attorney fees look like as new opinions are published on our blog.
If you have questions about agent and power of attorney fees in Pennsylvania or any other estate planning concerns contact our office for a free consultation.