Q: My sister was left as the executrix of my mother’s estate but my mother’s will divides everything evenly among 3 children. To my understanding she gets an additional 5% as being the executrix? Now with, that being said, my mother had a reverse mortgage on her home. The house sold for 184,990.00 settlement expenses were 12,114.44 then the reverse mortgage had to be paid back in the amount of 137,319.03 which left the amount of net proceeds to be 28,741.91 Now does the 5% come from how much the house sold for which is the 184,990.00 or does the 5%come from the net proceeds of 28,741.91? Now I’m only asking because she is giving us a hard time with this and I don’t trust her or the paperwork that she sent to me and my brother that she wants us to sign. I would appreciate some help if you can give it. Because there is a big difference in the amount of money that she is getting compared to what we are getting. (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
A: Generally, executor and attorney fees are calculated from the gross estate, not the net. As far as the percentage for a permissible fee for an executor, 5% is generally the figure people speak of but it is not exactly a correct calculation. The permissible fees for executors and attorneys is explicitly addressed in an old PA common law case, titled the Johnson Estate. When there is a dispute over either fee, this is the case that many courts in PA look to. Johnson uses a sliding scale depending on the type of asset and the monetary value. It is not a straight application 5% for all assets.