Q: Lawyers hired by Probate Executor...
In will, the deceased named a non-family friend executor of will. The executor hired a law firm for probate.
Does the law firm have fiduciary responsibility to the Executor or to estate (beneficiaries of) ?
Does the family have recourse if they feel process (actions taken by the executor) are benefiting the executor and not done in best interest of estate (beneficiaries of)?
A: Attorneys for the executor are not fiduciaries. Attorneys for the executor get paid from the estate but only after court approval of their fees. Any beneficiary of the estate can file their objections to the reasonableness of the fee request. Statutory fees are reasonable by law.
Since the executor retained counsel, the counsel reports to the executor who represents the estate.
the family can retain their own counsel if they feel that the executor is not acting appropriately and can advise the court.
A: Since the executor hired the lawyer, the lawyer's duty is to his/her/their client (the executor.) If the family needs to sue the executor, the family would have to hire its own attorney. It would be a good idea to hire a probate litigator to see if your concerns rise to the level of a breach of the executor's duties or if the decisions made by the executor fall within the discretion given to executors in some situations.
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