Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who's The Client In A Probate?

Probates pose an interesting situation for attorneys because they can generate three different "clients" to represent:
  1. represent the estate itself;
  2. represent the personal representative in his/her role in the probate; and
  3. represent individuals who have an interest in the estate.
Unlike lawyers on TV, real life lawyers can have only one client. To do otherwise would create a conflict of interest. The November 2009 edition of Wisconsin Lawyer details the reprimand of a Wisconsin attorney who attempted to represent too many clients in one probate.

In my experience, a primary task of estate planning attorneys is to educate clients. One topic that is often overlooked is who is the actual client. Remember, there should only be one, and that guarantees each client receives unbiased advice. It may sound nice to have one attorney answer all the questions about a loved ones death, but it is not wise.

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