Why Must the Personal Representative of an Estate Have a Lawyer?

Much to the dismay of many an executor or administrator of an estate, Texas law requires that such personal representatives hire a lawyer to represent them in the administration of an estate. The representative of an estate may not administer the estate pro se (be their own attorney). This legal requirement is to protect the personal representative as much as it is to protect the beneficiaries.

 

When one party is undertaking to represent the interests of another person, that representative owes fiduciary duties to the other person. Fiduciary duties arise in other areas of the law besides probate, such as corporate law. In probate law, this issue arises when an executor is handling the estate and must make decisions that affect the beneficiaries’ rights. Because the role of a personal representative involves many powers, such as the power to buy and sell estate property, as well as to sue and be sued, Texas law ensures maximum protection of the beneficiaries’ rights and of the legal process by requiring an attorney be involved. The attorney advises the fiduciary so that the fiduciary can follow the legal requirements involved in administering an estate.

 

While some personal representatives would like to be the lawyer for the estate, Texas law requires otherwise.