Advisory Opinion: 1809

Year Issued: 1998

RPC(s): 1.7; 1.8; 1.9

Subject: Conflict of interest; firm represents estate as personal representative when one of the firm's lawyers prepared the will


The inquiry concerns whether a firm serving an estate as personal representative and performing legal services for the estate would constitute a conflict of interest within the meaning of RPC 1.7, 1.8, and 1.9, or violate the duty as an attorney to provide independent professional judgment, as required by RPC 2.1.

The committee apologizes for the delay in responding to the inquiry but the committee wished to consult with the Real Property, Probate and Trust Section because the inquiry deals with that area of practice. A member of the Section wrote on September 20, 1999 stating the Section’s position, which was considered by the committee in reaching its decision.

It is not expressly prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct for a lawyer /personal representative for that lawyer and/or that firm to act as attorney for the personal representative, provided that the lawyer complied with RPC 1.8(a)(1), (2) and (3) at the time the will was drafted.

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Advisory Opinions are provided for the education of the Bar and reflect the opinion of the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) or its predecessors. Advisory Opinions are provided pursuant to the authorization granted by the Board of Governors, but are not individually approved by the Board and do not reflect the official position of the Bar association. Laws other than the Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct may apply to the inquiry. The Committee's answer does not include or opine about any other applicable law other than the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct.