Clara comes to an attorney’s office in need of assistance with her husband’s estate. Her husband, Phil, a factory worker, had been a saver all his life and owned approximately $ 1.5 million in stocks and bonds. Clara is relatively unsophisticated in financial matters, so the attorney agrees to handle the estate for 17 percent of the value of the estate. The normal charge for such work is 3 to 5 percent of the estate. The widow agrees to the 17 percent arrangement. The attorney then hires CPA Charles for $ 10,000 to compute Phil’s estate tax on Form 706 and to prepare other appropriate documents.
a. Under Circular 230, does Charles have any responsibility to inform the widow that she is being significantly overcharged by the attorney?
b. What potential ethics issues do you see in this situation?