The responsibility to administer an estate or trust lies with the executor, administrator or trustee. A person serving in such a position is entitled to retain an attorney to provide assistance and advice in fulfilling the responsibilities, and to pay that attorney out of the assets of the estate or trust.
From the outset the attorney should make clear as to whom the attorney is representing. It is possible for an attorney to represent both the fiduciary and the beneficiaries, or may even represent the estate or trust entity. However, a conflict of interest may arise among the persons involved, and the attorney will then have an obligation to provide full disclosure of all information to each one of the persons who is considered a client. This may eventually place the attorney in an untenable position in which the attorney must withdraw from representing any of them.
The beneficiaries of the estate or trust may assume that the attorney is also representing them. This can eventually lead to difficult issues later. For this reason, when an attorney is involved with an administration it is important that the attorney promptly communicate to all persons involved as to whom the attorney considers to be his client.