Solicitors Acting as Executors
If you don’t feel like you have anyone appropriate to appoint as your executor in your will, then you may look to appoint a trustee company, such as the State Trustees, or another professional, such as the solicitor preparing your Will.
The office of executor is generally gratuitous. However, the Supreme Court can award commission if an executor applies for it, of up to 5% of the value of the estate and up to 5% on income. Commission can also be paid to the executor if all the beneficiaries are of full capacity (adults without disabilities), and the agreement is unanimous.
If you appoint a solicitor to be your executor, they cannot double dip. They can either charge legal fees, or they can charge a commission. Don’t get ripped off.
To be able to charge as an executor, a solicitor also needs to comply with the Professional Conduct and Practice Rules. They need to make full disclosure to the person making the Will, and the written records need to be maintained. Then when they ask beneficiaries for consent to them having commission, they also need to make full disclosure, and beneficiaries need to be awareÂ that they don’t have to consent.
Beneficiaries should also be aware that the Will needs to authorise a commission, or it is a breach of trust. Even if it is authorised, a solicitor-executor is no different from a lay-person executor, and they need to retain records to make an application for commission. They cannot charge legal fees for non-legal work.
So don’t just agree, or let it go. If you’re a beneficiary, the commission is coming out of your pocket. Ask the questions, and hold your executor accountable.