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What does this mean? The attorney representing the executor cannot represent the beneficiaries.

Chesterfield, VA |

the executor is a beneficiary, does this mean other beneficiaries? not all

Attorney Answers 3


Technically, the attorney engaged by the executor represents the estate, not the beneficiaries.
The estate acts through the executor. Thus, in a case in which the executor is also a beneficiary, the executor is wearing two hats -- that of executor and that of beneficiary. The estate attorney, although somewhat reliant on the instructions of the executor, will not technically represent the interests of the executor when he is wearing his beneficiary hat.

But that's all getting rather technical. I think what you actually want to know is whether the attorney for the estate must answer to the beneficiaries. And the answer to that question is no.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.

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Although I practice law in California, what they would mean is that although the executor is also a beneficiary, the lawyer can only represent the executor. The lawyer cannot represent the beneficiaries. You should consult with an attorney in your area because there may be a conflict of interest.

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An Executor can hire an attorney to work with him or her on the estate administration, but the duty of the lawyer is to faithfully implement the terms of the will and to comply with the laws and regulations applicable to an estate. An Executor has the exact same obligations.

Sometimes, however, Executors violate their oath and act in their own interests. Sometimes, beneficiaries fight among themselves because they disagree on the terms of the will or belief that the will should not be applied as written. Disagreements about the administration of estates are quite common. In those cases, the lawyer should not take the side of the beneficiary or the Executor. Instead, it is the lawyer's duty to enforce the terms of the will appropriately. If the Executor is also a beneficiary and there is a disagreement with another beneficiary, each would need to have their own lawyer and the Estate lawyer could not represent either of the beneficaries.

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