Pro Se Executors - Unauthorized Practice of Law, or Not?

53 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2007

See all articles by Michael Hatfield

Michael Hatfield

University of Washington - School of Law


In Texas, a probate attorney's client is the executor - not the "estate" or the beneficiaries. This keeps professional responsibilities relatively clear for the attorney. This clear rule is undermined, however, by the "Minnesota rule" adopted by some Texas probate courts. The Minnesota rule denies the rights of executors to appear without an attorney. The premise is that the beneficiaries - rather than the executors - have the legal rights subject to attorney-client representation during an estate administration. While pro se rights at first glance might not seem of much interest to many probate attorneys, the underlying issue of client identity in estate administration is of vital interest. The high fiduciary duties of executors suggests caution to anyone considering proceeding pro se.

Keywords: pro se, texas, independent administration, probate, estate, professional responsibility, fiduciary

Suggested Citation

Hatfield, Michael W., Pro Se Executors - Unauthorized Practice of Law, or Not?. Baylor Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 2, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Michael W. Hatfield (Contact Author)

University of Washington - School of Law ( email )

William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States
206-221-1535 (Phone)


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