92 N.J.L.J. 338
May 22, 1969
Conflict of Interest
Representing Heirs Against
Former Client Administrator
The Committee has the following inquiry:
Is a conflict of interest involved under Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 6 when the heirs of an estate desire representation by the same attorney who previously represented the administrator of the same estate, when the administrator, being also an heir of the estate, refuses to comply with an order directing distribution of the estate, and subsequent possible partition proceedings are being considered by the remainder of the heirs against the other heir, the former administrator?
In addition to the question set forth in the inquiry, the inquirer advises the Committee that the administrator is 80 years of age and believes that the entire estate belongs to him and therefore refuses to sign any checks to accomplish distribution or execute a deed to convey the real property, and that all of the other heirs, being fully advised of the situation, insist that the
inquirer represent them in compelling the administrator to complete the distribution of the estate.
It is this Committee's opinion that Canons of Professional Ethics, Canons 16 and 44 are controlling. If the inquirer's client, as administrator of the estate, refuses to obey the lawful order of the court and disobeys the instructions of the inquirer with respect thereto, sufficient grounds are established for the inquirer to withdraw from further representation of the administrator of the estate on application to the court. Any adjustments in allowances already made to the inquirer may be directed by the court in its order permitting withdrawal.
It is the further opinion of this Committee that after the inquirer's withdrawal he should not represent any of the other heirs of this estate in any action against his former client as administrator. See Canon 6.