An Attorney’s Duty to Account
An attorney acting under a power of attorney may be required to account to the beneficiaries of the grantor’s estate after the death of the grantor. This is the holding in the decision of McAllister Estate v. Hudgin. Megan Connolly blogged on this case here, on the issue of accounting, and here, on the issue of removal of an estate trustee.
In the May 11/18, 2009 issue of the Law Times, in a comment titled “The duty of an attorney to account”, John O’Sullivan and Lori M. Duffy comment further on the McAllister decision. They note other cases where an attorney for property has been compelled to account to the beneficiaries of an estate after the death of the grantor.
The authors suggest that in light of the duty to account, “the wisest course for a person exercising a power of attorney for property following these decisions is to assume that he or she will be required at some point in the future to account to persons opposed in interest, and to conduct themselves accordingly throughout their tenure as power of attorney.”
The authors go on to suggest that attorneys should, if they can, ensure that the power of attorney document provides protection for the costs that they may be forced to incur in preparing the accounts and passing them before the court.
Thank you for reading,