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.
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.
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.
If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at email@example.com . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.
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.
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.