These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
 Back to main menu

  Print This Leo
LEO NumTopicsSummary

2-Adversity to Former Clients

58-Real Estate Lawyers

61-Lawyers Acting as Executors

76-Trust and Estate Lawyers

A lawyer who acted as co-administrator of an estate did not represent the estate or the beneficiaries, but rather "was his own client for practical purposes." After withdrawing as administrator, the lawyer could not represent a beneficiary's executrix in litigation involving estate assets (unless the successor administrator consented) because the representation would be adverse to the estate and was "substantially related" to the lawyer's previous representation of himself or herself as administrator ("substantial relatedness between the matters in a former representation and a current representation is a fact-specific inquiry from case to case . . . in previous opinions, substantial relatedness depended upon whether the same parties, the same subject matter, or the same issues were present. The committee referred to cases to find substantial relatedness in terms of the matters or the issues being essentially the same, arising from substantially the same facts, being by-products of the same transaction, or entailing a virtual congruence of issues of patently clear relationship in subject matter.").On the other hand, the lawyer could represent the beneficiary's executrix in litigation over real estate which was never part of the probate estate and therefore not within the scope of the lawyer's role as administrator. There may also be fiduciary duties or statutes that would apply.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn