Skip to Content

We are a Veteran Owned Business, providing 20% discounts for Veterans, First Responders, Elementary and High School teachers. We remain open during the shutdown period, so please contact us to set up a phone or Zoom meeting. Taking care of you and your family, It's What We Do!

Klenk Law

Serving as Executor, Administrator, or Personal Representative of an estate in Pennsylvania can be a lot of work. Many of us may end up in this role only once or twice in our lifetimes, if at all. That’s why it’s understandable to ask whether executors get paid (they do) and what are the executor of estate fees for taking on these crucial responsibilities. Let’s take a look at the landscape of fees for serving in this fiduciary role of a Pennsylvania estate.

In Pennsylvania, the answer is not simple. While many states publish an official statutory schedule specifying the maximum acceptable executor fee, based on varying percentages and according to the size of the estate, Pennsylvania does not. Instead, our Commonwealth requires the amount an executor charges to be “reasonable and just under the circumstances.”

We understand how completely unhelpful that answer seems. So, we’ll dig a little deeper to find some better guidance. While the Pennsylvania Legislature has resisted the ease of adopting a percentage based fee schedule, the Orphan’s Court judges have supplied some helpful precedent. Pennsylvania probate judges regularly apply the schedule attached to a 1983 case opinion, the Johnson Estate.

The Johnson Estate executor fee schedule is posted below. It’s a benchmark many judges have recognized over the past 30 years when someone challenges an executor’s fees. Rather than balancing countless factors, many judges first examine how the claimed fee compares to the schedule in Johnson. Therefore, this schedule serves as the most intelligible answer to questions about an appropriate executor fee in Pennsylvania.

The Johnson Estate Executor Fee Schedule for Probate Estate Fees / Commission

 Per Col.Per Total
 $00.01to$100,000.005%5,000.005,000.00
 $100,000.01to$200,000.004%4,000.009,000.00
Executor$200,000.01to$1,000,000.003%24,000.0033,000.00
or$1,000,000.01to$2,000,000.002%20,000.0053,000.00
Administrator$2,000,000.01to$3,000,000.001½%15,000.0068,000.00
 $3,000,000.01to$4,000,000.001%10,000.0078,000.00
 $4,000,000.01to$5,000,000.00½%5,000.0083,000.00
1%Joint Accounts1%P.O.D. Bonds1%Trust Funds
3%Real Estate Converted 
with Aid of Broker5%Real Estate:
Non-Converted1%Real Estate:
Specific Devise

The table establishes marginal rates for appropriate fees, similar to the federal income tax. Each portion of an estate’s value gets charged its own marginal rates, which executors can stack to reach their total acceptable fee.

Example 1: Estate of $50,000

At 5 percent of the estate value, most Pennsylvania judges would deem $2,500 an acceptable Johnson fee.

Example 2: Estate of $100,000

Again, some simple math, because the value of this estate falls just short of the next calculation bracket. A $5,000 fee represents 5 percent of the estate value, again acceptable to judges who follow the Johnson guidance.

Example 3: Estate of $150,000

Our math gets more complex, as the first $100,000 of estate value gets charged a 5 percent fee, while the next $50,000 triggers a slightly lower fee. Add the 4 percent fee on that second stage ($2,000) to the 5 percent fee on the first stage ($5,000) to arrive at an acceptable fee of $7,000.

Judges Ultimately Define “Reasonable and Just Under The Circumstances” on a Case-by-Case Basis

It should be stressed that these amounts represent neither a maximum or minimum acceptable executor fee. Orphan’s Court judges alone have the discretion to accept a larger fee or reduce an excessive one. If extraordinary work is required, an extraordinary fee may be acceptable. If the estate is poorly managed, a lesser fee can be imposed. Ultimately, the Johnson schedule is not law. Judges ultimately define “reasonable and just under the circumstances” on a case-by-case basis. Read some case studies in our blog

If you have questions about executor of estate fees in Pennsylvania or any other estate planning concerns contact our office for a free consultation.

What Our clients are saying

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Great firm. Great people. Happy to refer folks in need to estate planning to Peter and his team. They do great work.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Always professional and very responsive. Everyone on the staff that I have worked with. I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter and his staff are very responsive and always willing to help my clients and in a cost efficient manner.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Mr. Klenk, quickly understood the circumstances presented and provided clear and concise advice. This advice provided me with the information I required to progress the case to my advantage.

Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Free consultation within 24 hours.