What you must tell a client before being appointed executor

21 March 2011

The Law Society has issued a new practice note for practitioners whose clients are considering appointing them as executors.

The guidance sets out certain pieces of information that practitioners must give a client when promoting their own probate services. The client must be explicitly told that he can instead choose to appoint lay executors only. He should be reminded that these lay executors always have the option of engaging a professional to help with the estate administration if necessary.

Before selling one’s own services, the practitioner should also consider whether the estate really warrants a professional executor. “If the estate is small or straightforward, it may not be appropriate to encourage the client to appoint you or your firm as the executor”, says the Law Society.

The client must also be told whether the practitioner’s administration charges will be based on an hourly rate or a percentage of the estate.

The practice note also briefly discusses how a professional executor should deal with a later request to renounce. Relevant factors in considering such a request would be the reasons why the practitioner was originally appointed, and whether circumstances have changed since then; in particular, whether the estate administration could now easily be handled by a lay executor.

The new guidance applies to all types of will-writing services, whether done face-to-face or by on-line or postal packs. They also apply to legal professionals who work with a third party (e.g. a high street bank) that sells executor services.




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