View Full Version : Wills - solicitor vs public trustee?

07-06-2005, 11:12 AM
I would like comments / views on having wills prepared by a solicitor vs wills prepared by the public trustee. Are the wills prepared by a solicitor better than those prepared by the public trustee? We don't want to use a legal kit because our wills are a little complicated.

Our solicitor has quoted us more than $3K to do the 2 wills - I sent him an outline of each will regarding the distribution of the estate. However, the public trustee will do the wills for no charge but take fees out of the estate as the executor of the wills.

The executor fee by the solicitor is about 4%, whereas the executor fee by the public trustee is on a sliding scale - and works out lower than that by the solicitor.

We would appreciate any reply on this. Thank you.

07-06-2005, 07:54 PM
I received a mail from the Public trustee recently advertising for their services.

I was quite surprised. Is this a government service or a profit-seeking entity?

07-06-2005, 08:59 PM
I phoned a couple of local solicitors a few weeks ago, the normal will is $100 but to sort lout the mess with 2 trusts and a company plus the rentals the receptionist wasn't sure and I would have to talk to the solicitor but they haven't gotten back to me.


07-06-2005, 09:05 PM
One disadvantage of using the public trustee is that it has a reputation of being slow to distribute the estate. I don't KNOW if this is true, as I haven't died yet. :D

More seriously, 3K sounds a smidge high unless you've got a very complicated set of affairs. If you do have, the public trustee may be equally slow to sort it out at the end - how would that affect the value of your estate? I reckon mine would fall apart if not continuously and properly attended, at my present stage of development.

08-06-2005, 08:47 AM
Thanks for your replies so far. Am still not sure what to do, but may go with solicitor in the end because have not heard good things about public trustee.

08-06-2005, 08:55 AM
Thanks for your replies so far. Am still not sure what to do, but may go with solicitor in the end because have not heard good things about public trustee.

I've heard bad things about the Public Trustees too - like not taking the familys recommendations into consideration. Spending the money on lower priority items first or not releasing money to make life easier for the sick person in a nursing home - that sort of thing. In general, if they are in charge of the money - then it really means just that and the family have little or no say in the matter.


08-06-2005, 11:29 AM
I once had a will drawn up by a trustee company- which I rejected.

1. It specified that the estate was to be "equally distributed to my sisters and their children". That did not spell things out specifically enough for me- it could have been argued that it was equally to y sisters, and then to their children, or equal shares all around.

2. It did not specify anything about the costs involved- they could have taken my entire estate if they so desired (which did not even amount to a PPOR at that stage).

08-06-2005, 03:00 PM
We had a wills made last year which cost us $300+. $3000 sounds very expensive unless it is very involved. Ours had a fair bit of detail which we needed; I thought the price was more than fair.
It is important to spell out the nitty gritty.

I knew someone years ago who had a cousin who was an only child. The parents were very well off but the old family solicitor made an awful mess & when both parents had died the daughter, who was by now an adult, had to go cap in hand to a trust, whenever she needed money. The money was to be fully accessible to the grandchildren when they became adults, but the poor daughter suffered through a poorly drafted will. The daughter was competent & able; this was not a case of a mental incompetence.

I don't know about now, but years ago they charged 1% which is cheap if you have few assets but if you have plenty, it will cost you. The government does nothing for nothing - enough said.
I prefer to stay away from anything that involves the government - just a foible of mine.


08-06-2005, 06:38 PM
Well, I did think $3K to draft 2 wills was a bit expensive. The wills are not that complex - from my point of view. We have an outline setting out the division of the estate - fixed % to siblings and fixed % to a few named organisations. That's all. Nothing really out of the ordinary really. An interesting thing was that we told the solicitor we wanted to appoint his firm to be the executor of our wills because siblings are realy hopeless and incompetent. But, he said we should not appoint his firm because it would be expensive (standard 4%) and we should appoint a trusted relative.

08-06-2005, 08:05 PM
Hi there

I hope this is not the same solicitor who has done property conveyancing for you!! We have not paid to have our wills prepared by a solicitor. One of the properties we bought a few years ago just happened to be in the same location as us so I had him prepare them FOC 12 months after he did the conveyancing.
I have copies of them at home so my/our estate doesn't even have to use him come the time.



Peter 14.7
08-06-2005, 11:05 PM
I was quoted $450 in Sydney CBD for a realtively complex will but no trusts and such.

Now with child on the way it is simple. Give to her.

IMO people over worry wills. I mean your dead. And when you die you hope that it is long into the future at which point those in need now may be well off.

Nominate those you love and split it evenly I say. That way it is harder to contest which means the lawyers dont win.

Peter 147

09-06-2005, 09:01 AM
Hi Caramellokoala, How did you guess that it was the same solicitor who did my conveyancing? Well, it was! It is good for you that you got your wills drafted for free. I am asking for another quote from a different solicitor - I gave him the same outline of the wills as I gave to the current solicitor.

Hi Peter 147, Since we don't have any children so we want our estate to be divided between siblings (on both sides) and some worthy organisations. Nothing complex at all. We have a family trust, and are still working out how we should deal with it in the wills. We think that if only one of us is living then the surviving spouse will sell the trust assets and wind up the trust making it easier for the executor(s) to deal with the estate when that person goes.

Thanks for all your comments.

09-06-2005, 09:11 AM
Hi Babushka,

What state are you in?

If you Google the Public Trustee of your state they should have a list of scheduled fees available.

I know the NSW Public Trustee can take a looooong time to do things.

Everything involved in a will seems to take a while but my Aunty found that they did not keep her informed of progress (if any) and seemed to take a couple of weeks just to mail confirmation to her of things that had already been discussed.

09-06-2005, 09:16 AM
Hi Macca, Am in Sydney. Have already contacted the Public Trustee branch nearby home and looked through their fee structure on their website. However, some people do not seem to have good opinion on their efficiency. So, am not sure if I will go to them for drafting the wills - which is free as they take % out of the estate.

09-06-2005, 11:09 AM
I'm in the process of having 2 wills set up by a solicitor (1 for me, 1 for my wife) and the all up cost is ~$1.5k to $2k (includes testamentary trust, financial powers of attorney, medical powers of atterney and probably others that I've forgotten about). We never had a will but now with young kids there is a need to have something in place. Aside from the obvious of who gets the cash, other kinds of things that need to be considered are
- should the assets be held in a testamentary trust (as this has numerious tax advantages)
- whether you want to put in place various powers of attorney should one or both parents be medically incapacitated
- if both parents die, who should look after your kids and how are funds going to flow to them
- if both parents die, how old should your kid(s) be before they have access to the estate. Is it a staged release of funds at different ages?