(1) EXPENSES. The personal representative shall be allowed all necessary expenses in the care, management and settlement of the estate.(2) SERVICES. Subject to the approval of the court the personal representative shall be allowed for his or her services commissions computed on the inventory value of the property for which the personal representative is accountable less any mortgages or liens plus net principal gains in the estate proceedings at a rate of 2 percent or a rate that the decedent and the personal representative, or the persons who receive the majority interest in the estate and the personal representative, agree to in writing; and such further sums in cases of unusual difficulty or extraordinary services as the court determines reasonable. If a personal representative is derelict in duty, his or her compensation for services may be reduced or denied.(3) ATTORNEY FEES AND COMMISSIONS. If the personal representative or any law firm with which the personal representative is associated also serves as attorney for the decedent's estate, the court may allow him or her either executor's commissions, (including sums for any extraordinary services as set forth in sub. (2)) or attorney fees. The court may allow both executor's commissions and attorney fees, and shall allow both if the will of the decedent authorizes the payments to be made.1977 c. 449; 1979 c. 110 s. 60 (4); 1991 a. 124.
The personal representative's failure to communicate with one of the heirs, in violation of a court order, was an appropriate basis for reducing the personal representative's fees. In Matter of Estate of Huehne, 175 Wis. 2d 33, 498 N.W.2d 870 (Ct. App. 1993). Sub. (3) allows an attorney to act as both personal representative and attorney for an estate but does not allow charging at the usual attorney's billing rate for nonprofessional services. Sherman v. Hagness, 195 Wis. 2d 225, 536 N.W.2d 133 (Ct. App. 1995), 94-2089. A personal representative's obligation under a bond to reimburse the surety company's attorney fees incurred on the bond was an allowable expense of the personal representative under this section. Estate of Burgess v. Peterson, 214 Wis. 2d 180, 571 N.W.2d 432 (Ct. App. 1997), 96-1455. Sub. (1) did not authorize payment for attorney's services when it was in the estate's interest to let the interested parties litigate an issue and when, if the attorney's position prevailed, no property would have been added to the estate. Bell v. Neugart, 2002 WI App 180, 256 Wis. 2d 969, 650 N.W.2d 52, 01-2533.