Skip to Content

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

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

Andrea Wilson

Peter is excellent. I had a very complicated situation with my parents' estate planning and potential Medicaid needs. Peter was very knowledgeable in estate planning matters, able to define the best solution for the situation. Additionally, he was congenial and able to communicate effectively to my senior citizen parents the benefits of estate planning. He earned my trust, and more importantly, my parents' trust in a 45 mins consultation period. Highly recommend Peter. He is very easy to work with.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

B.A.

Peter Klenk and his associates are responsive and professional - It is a pleasure to work with their team. If you have needs in estate planning or administration, they are the firm to go to in the Philadelphia area!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Brian M.

Peter explained a complex subject very clearly, helped us to decide the best approach to managing our estate and then made it very easy for us to execute the required documents. He will be a valuable resource for years to come and clearly has a great understanding of estate law that will lead to innovative solutions for us. I would unhesitatingly recommend him for estate planning.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Chris B.

AWESOME LAWYER! Peter Klenk is an exceptional attorney and a very nice person! Today I spoke with Peter about estate planning and was impressed with by his professionalism, cordiality, and attention to detail. I highly recommend Klenk Law for probates, wills, trusts, and other issues germane to estate planning!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Bill

I met Peter soon after he started his practice in Philadelphia, PA. He and his team have always been there for me and my various inquiries throughout my life-changing events, corporate relocations. I have lived in various cities throughout the nation, I have never had a problem in contacting Peter or a member of his team. He and his office responds quickly and returns calls to me to fulfill my requests for information or to revise my estate needs while posing relevant thought-provoking questions that I need to consider to secure my future. One of Peter's best qualities is his ability to answer clients complicated questions in a simple way to ensure comprehension.

Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Free consultation within 24 hours.