Real Time Web Analytics

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who does the estate lawyer act for?

When a lawyer is hired by an executor to handle the legal work for an estate, that lawyer works for the executor. The lawyer's job is to advise the executor on legal matters (and often on estate administration matters too, if the executor is inexperienced). The lawyer carries out legal work such as applying for probate and dealing with disputes. The lawyer can't and won't take instructions from anyone else, not even the beneficiaries of the estate.

This is frustrating for beneficiaries, who frequently wish they had more say in what is happening in an estate. Many lawyers take the position that residuary beneficiaries have a right to be informed about what is going on an estate, and almost all will encourage the executor to communicate frequently with the beneficiaries about progress being made or obstacles encountered in the estate. This still doesn't mean that the beneficiaries get to tell the lawyer what to do.

I can't tell you how many times an irate beneficiary has complained to me that the estate lawyer won't listen to him. Well, when you think about it, how would you like to be doing your job the way you're supposed to, and some person who has no right to tell you what to do calls up and demands that you do what he wants?

This isn't to say that beneficiaries have no control over an estate. They have the power to approve the executor's accounts or withhold that approval. They also have the power to hire a lawyer of their own - either individually or as a group - if they have a dispute with the executor that simply can't be resolved without help.

The lawyer for the estate represents the executor in his capacity as executor. So if the executor is, say, a spouse who doesn't feel that she received enough of the estate and wants to make a claim against the estate, the lawyer won't represent her on that claim. (Hopefully the spouse wouldn't be named as executor in this case, but we all know it happens).

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails