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Using Legal Professionals and Claiming Expenses

Legal professionals

Legal professionals may act as personal representatives in exactly the same way as any other person, including any lawyers who assisted in drafting the Will.

The main difference is that a legal professional is entitled to a reasonable rate of compensation for serving as a personal representative. If the lawyer helped draft the Will they should explain at the time of drafting what the rate would be for serving as executor, what is likely to be involved in administering the estate, and what the estimated cost to the estate would be. The lawyer also should have the deceased sign an agreement that the cost would be paid by the estate.

If not specifically provided for in the Will, or if there is no will, a legal professional acting as a personal representative may still receive reasonable compensation if agreed in writing by all of the other personal representatives. This is possible even if the services were capable of being provided by someone with no legal experience.  

Non-lawyers’ expenses

Unlike legal professionals, non-lawyers are not allowed to charge the estate for their services as personal representatives. However, it is possible to charge the estate for any reasonable expenses incurred while acting as a personal representative. These expenses are sometimes described as ‘out of pocket’ expenses, and so must be costs which would not have arisen if not acting as a personal representative. For example, they would cover the travel costs of the personal representative, but not those of their partner.

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