Appointing a Solicitor as Executor of your Will
An executor is a person who will carry out the terms of your Will once you have passed away.
You can appoint more than one executor. In South Australia there is no limit to the number of executors you can appoint.
We are often asked by Willmakers to act as an executor of a Will.
In general, you can appoint any adult person as the executor of your Will, this includes solicitors. It is not uncommon for a solicitor to be appointed as an executor of a Will. The main advantage of having a solicitor act as an executor is in their experience in administering estates, compared to someone who has never before had to undertake such a role.
It is quite likely that whomever you appoint as an executor will see the need to seek legal advice from a solicitor whilst acting in any event.
Why would I appoint my solicitor as an executor of my Will?
If you have a complicated estate or family situation, it may be worth considering appointing a solicitor as an executor of your Will.
Solicitors bring professionalism and experience to the role. It may be easier for a solicitor to remain unemotional and impartial in administering an estate as well as helping resolve disputes, should any disagreements arise as to the contents of the Will or the administration of the estate generally.
An experienced solicitor can also ensure your Will is executed in a timely manner, can communicate the progress of the administration of the estate to beneficiaries and ensure that proper accounts are maintained.
What is required from a solicitor who is to become executor of my Will?
If you decide to appoint a solicitor as an executor of your Will, they would normally need to confirm with you that they will agree to act as an executor of your Will and should include the following in writing;
- Any entitlements they may be able to claim for carrying out your instructions in accordance with the terms of your Will;
- The existence of any charging clause in the will entitling them to make charges for legal fees or possible executor’s commission.
The solicitor must disclose their fee structure for your consideration prior to you signing the will appointing them as an executor.
Can a solicitor charge a fee for executing my Will?
Yes, they can. There are a few ways in which a solicitor can be paid for acting as your executor and administering your estate. For example, a clause may be included in the in the Will providing for a gift of a certain amount of money to be paid to the executor/s. Alternatively the will might provide for a rate of commission based upon the overall value of your estate to be paid to the executor and may also possibly include a provision of a right for a solicitor executor to charge normal professional rates for non-professional work.
Solicitors acting as executors must ensure they comply with relevant Solicitors Conduct Rules when appointed as an executor and charging for any work performed by them in relation to your estate.
The appointment of a solicitor as an executor and the payment of executors’ remuneration can be a complex issue., We recommend you speak to one of our specialist lawyers to consider your options.
An experienced solicitor is able to bring professionalism and impartiality to the role of executor. Conversely the appointment of a solicitor as opposed to a non- solicitor can increase costs to your estate. If a solicitor has accepted an appointment as an executor of your Will, they must explain their associated fees and methods of charging. Sometimes the benefits both to Willmakers and beneficiaries might outweigh the costs involved.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (08) 8344 6422 or email [email protected].