Finding a lawyer that one can trust is not easy. Oftentimes, individuals choose attorneys based upon the recommendations and experiences of friends and family members. So it should be no surprise, then, if the surviving family members of a decedent reach out to the attorney who prepared the decedent’s estate plan for assistance in administering that estate plan. Administrators and surviving family members may not only be more inclined to trust this attorney, but may believe that this attorney will help administer the estate more quickly due to their familiarity with the decedent’s estate and wishes.
As well-intentioned and understandable this desire to use a decedent’s estate-planning attorney may not only be risky, but also legally problematic.
Reasons to Consider Seeking Help from an Independent Attorney
There are several reasons why the attorney who prepared your loved one’s estate plan may not be the best choice to represent you as you administer your loved one’s estate:
- The decedent’s estate planning lawyer may have a conflict of interest. Even after a person’s passing, the decedent’s estate planning attorney may have a conflict of interest that prevents them from assisting you in administering their estate. For example, if the estate plan calls for you receiving a small share of the decedent’s estate, the attorney would likely be unable to argue to a court you should receive a larger share.
- The estate planning lawyer may be needed as a witness. If there is a challenge to the admissibility of the decedent’s will (for example, if someone claims the decedent was unduly coerced or did not have mental capacity), the estate planning lawyer’s testimony may be necessary at one or more court hearings. It would be obviously difficult for you to examine or cross-examine the attorney you hired to represent you.
Getting Help in Administering an Estate Plan
If you or the administrator of the decedent’s estate believes they need legal assistance, the decedent’s estate planning attorney may be able to point you in the direction of a probate attorney who can assist you. You may also find referrals for attorneys by:
- Contacting the local bar association: The State of Ohio as well as many cities and regions in Ohio each have a bar association to which local licensed attorneys belong. These organizations may be able to provide you with the name and number of one or more attorneys that can assist you with your specific legal needs.
- Speaking with friends or family members who received help with similar needs: Your friends and family members can also be a good source of information about attorneys. However, you should get referrals or recommendations from those individuals who received legal assistance for issues similar to the ones you are facing. For example, if you have been appointed as the administrator or executor of a decedent’s estate, seek out those friends or family members who also received legal help in administering an estate and ask them which attorney they used to help them.
Contact Dawes Legal, LLC for Additional Assistance
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Dawes Legal, LLC are here to assist you and your family in creating an estate plan that can give you and your family peace of mind if the unthinkable or inevitable were to occur. We strive to eliminate uncertainty and discord from our clients’ lives and the lives of their loved ones. Let us show you how a comprehensive estate plan can help you by calling our office and scheduling an initial consultation. Dawes Legal, LLC can be reached at (614) 733-9999.