In general, the attorney is responsible for making sure that the executor follows the probate code and administers the estate in such a way that he or she will not incur any personal liability. It is possible for a person who is familiar with probate to handle an estate without representation by an attorney. Part of the problem, however, is that court personnel are not permitted to give any legal advice. The executor is also potentially personally liable for any mistakes that are made. It is nice to know that there is someone else double-checking and overseeing your work to make sure that that does not happen.
Please note that I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
I would add that the role played by the attorney for the executor is flexible and can depend upon the sophistication and level of involvement of the executor. In other words, the attorney can do as little or as much as is needed by the executor.
The cost of an attorney for the executor is considered an expense of the estate. Probating the estate of a loved-one can be very difficult, time consuming, and paper-intensive. There are very specific rules and procedures that must be followed in order to carry out one's duties as executor.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can be of any assistance to you in this difficult time.