Lawyers as executors of wills

Often clients will want their lawyer to act as the executor of their will. While most lawyers honestly and faithfully act in that capacity, unfortunately there have been a number of instances where the conduct of the lawyer has left much to be desired.

Generally when a lawyer is appointed to act as executor, it is when there is no close family member able to carry out that role. That can lead to a lack of oversight and accountability, particularly where there is no co-executor. It can also mean that lawyers’ rates are being charged for a lot of basic work, such as sorting through possessions and mail.

These situations can give rise to overcharging. In a recent matter, we acted for a client making a claim to the Law Society fidelity fund to recover quite significant overcharges made by a lawyer in the administration of an estate. Of over $42,000 charged by the lawyer and deducted from money paid into the lawyer’s trust account in the estate, over $30,000 was accepted to be in excess of an appropriate fee, and this was compensated by the fund. In other words, over $42,000 was charged for work accepted to be worth around $12,000.

Our wills and estate lawyers recommend that there are two executors if it is intended to appoint a lawyer as one. For further information, look at our page