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

1-Adversity to Current Clients

76-Trust and Estate Lawyers

Because a will beneficiary normally has only an expectancy in receiving money from the testator, a lawyer representing a potential beneficiary in unrelated matters may assist the testator in disinheriting the beneficiary (although the lawyer might decline the assignment). This situation differs from a lawyer asked to advise one client "as to his rights under a contract with another client of the lawyer, or as to whether the statute of limitations has run on potential claims against, or by, another client of the lawyer" which the conflicts rules prohibit, because they involve legal rights there are no similar legal rights involved in a will, "except where the testator has a legal duty to make the bequest that is to be revoked or altered." There is a "heightened risk" that the lawyer's representation of the testator will be "materially limited" by the lawyer's duty to the beneficiary if the lawyer advises the testator "whether, rather than how, to disinherit the beneficiary."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn