How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33791
Experience:  15 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
19958803
Type Your Estate Law Question Here...
Barrister is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am one of several beneficiaries of a substantially large

Customer Question

I am one of several beneficiaries of a substantially large estate. I knew the deceased benefactor well and was privy to her financial and trust affairs, as were other beneficiaries.
She appointed, many years ago, one of her friends and a beneficiary to be her Co-Trustee/Successor Trustee, Executor/Personal Representative. The benefactor's estate attorney is also the Successor Trustee's estate attorney. The three of them had enjoyed a mutual friendship for many years. The benefactor's estate attorney wrote the original Trust and all the Amendments; and, documented receiving the benefactor's Inventory of Personal Assets and the original and amended Bequest of Personal Property.
It has become evident there is purposeful and out of control nepotism between the attorney and trustee. The Trustee (through the estate attorney) is grossly understating the value of the estate and is totally excluding the personal assets from the Inventory of Estate Assets at time of death.
My question:
1) Is there a Florida Statute that disqualifies an attorney to represent both the estate of the deceased and the Successor Trustee/Executor/Beneficiary in the event a dispute escalates into a lawsuit; and what is that Statute?
2) Can a beneficiary petition the court to replace an estate attorney due to conflict of interest?
Thank you
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

.

1) Is there a Florida Statute that disqualifies an attorney to represent both the estate of the deceased and the Successor Trustee/Executor/Beneficiary in the event a dispute escalates into a lawsuit; and what is that Statute?

.

No. It is common for one attorney to kind of be the "family attorney" and continue representation of the estate after someone passes and then represent the heirs in subsequent matters. Attorneys develop relationships of trust with clients over the years helping and representing them and many clients don't want to work with a "stranger".

.

Now if you are saying can the attorney represent both the trustee and the beneficiary if one is suing the other, then the answer is no as that is a conflict of interest and the attorney would be obligated to refuse representation to one of them and really should recuse themselves from any representation at all under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

.

2) Can a beneficiary petition the court to replace an estate attorney due to conflict of interest?
.

They can, but there is nothing improper about the attorney representing the trustee/estate after they have represented the deceased during their lifetime.

.

Let me know if you have further questions.

.

.

thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
There seems to be a misunderstanding. Please allow me to be frank and to the point.
1) The Trustee/Executor/Beneficiary of the estate that I am one of the two surviving heirs to is trying to take for herself three quarters of my inheritance. The estate attorney is blatantly submitting and or omitting documents that support this fact.
2) The deceased benefactor had no family - all of the heirs to her estate were friends of hers.
3) Other than the Successor Trustee none of the heirs nor I had business dealings with the estate attorney. He has been the Successor Trustee's personal estate attorney for many years.
4) The only remaining heirs (the other heirs pre-deceased the benefactor) are the Trustee and me.Is there a Florida Statute that addresses this particular conflict of interest other than Code of Ethics?

Related Estate Law Questions