Can an attorney represent buyer and seller of estate property?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an attorney represent buyer and seller of estate property?

Our mother passed away; there are 7 children and a Will. One of my sisters was named as executrix and she hired an attorney to allegedly help her fairly administer the estate according to the will.She just sold the house and property to one of our brothers for way under market value and had her attorney represent her as the seller and my brother as the buyer at the closing and charged the estate for both services.Is this legal? And is the estate liable to pay for both? The attorney charged the estate as 2 separate services.

Asked on March 27, 2016 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, an attorney may legally represent both sides in a transaction IF the risks of dual representation (i.e. not having a fully independent advocate) are explained to both parties, and the parties, in full knowledge of those risks, consent to the representation.
2) If the attorney is going to charge as two separate services, then each party should generally have been charged for its representation--i.e. the estate should have been charged for the lawyer's work as seller, the brother for the attorney's work representing him. That said, if this transacton was in the interest of the estate--which it may not have been, if the sale was under market value--then if it would be necessary to pay the brother's costs to get him to enter into it, it would be legal, in the interest of the estate, to pay for him.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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