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Does the Law Firm that drafts the will, automatically become the named executor's attorneys?

Lawrenceville, GA |

The named executor is not a beneficiary of the will. Another lawyer in the firm, that drafted the will, is the one who sent me a letter stating: This firm represents ____ ____, Executor of the Estate of ____ ____. Am I confused, I thought the lawyers who drafted the will, would represent the beneficiaries, if indeed anyone needs representing. Why would an executor need representing? Is there something I'm missing or possibly not aware of? Thank you before hand to all that reply!

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    The lawyer who drafts the will may or may not end up representing the estate in probate. The lawyer would not represent the beneficiaries, only the executor. The executor handles the administration of the will, which is technical and benefits from the expertise of counsel. It may not be mandatory for the executor to hire counsel, but it's highly recommended.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.

  2. Drafting lawyers can be executors and the executor is free to choose their attorney. Im not sure about GA law, but in California, there could be an issue with the executor hiring his/her own firm to represent them if they are a partner of the firm.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.

  3. Every executor should hire a lawyer to represent the estate.

    Note that it is usually a serious state bar ethical issue when a lawyer drafts a will naming himself or his firm in that position.

    However, it is very common that an executor might choose to retain a lawyer that drafted the will.

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  4. Under Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (the rules that govern the practice of law in this State), it would be unethical for an attorney to promote himself or herself as a fiduciary (an Executor or a Trustee, for example). That being said, it is perfectly acceptable for a client to request that their drafting attorney serve as Executor/Trustee in their estate plan. When such a request is made my the lawyer, the attorney has a duty to disclose to the client that there is a potential for conflict of interest to arise when the attorney serves as Executor or Trustee because the attorney will likely hire his or her own firm to represent them in administering the estate or trust. The client must be given an opportunity to seek independent legal advice about whether they should ask their attorney to serve as Executor or Trustee.

    Traditionally and generally speaking, it is very common for the drafting attorney to be contacted by the Executor of the Will (or Trustee of the Trust) to represent them--not the beneficiaries--in the administration of the estate. The beneficiaries may hire their own counsel if such is necessary, but it is extremely common for Executors/Trustees to hire to own attorneys. The attorneys will help prepare the petition to probate the Will, notifications to the heirs, represent the Executor in court (if necessary), and assist in the administration of the estate (prioritizing the payment of debts, running title on any real estate, ordering appraisals of property, advising on any estate tax issues, preparing deeds to transfer real estate out of the deceased person's name, etc.).

    Communication on this website and the general information provided above does not and shall not constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship would only exist upon the execution of an engagement agreement. This information is provided for educational purposes only and each case and circumstances should be fully discussed with a lawyer of your choice.

  5. You have two things confused. First, the law firm that drafted the will has nothing to do with probating the will unless the nominated executor hires the firm to handle the probate. Second, the executor generally needs at least a little help to make sure he does not do anything wrong and that the creditors first, and the beneficiaries second, are handled in accordance with the law.

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