Other Estate Planning Matters

Professional Responsibility

In re Taylor, 67 S.W.3d 530 (Tex. App.—Waco 2002, no pet.).


Law Firm represented Husband and Wife in the preparation of their estate plans, including wills and powers of attorney, as well as some business matters. Later, Law Firm undertook to represent Husband in divorce proceedings against Wife. Wife sought to have Law Firm disqualified from representing Husband. The trial court denied her motion and Wife appealed.

The appellate court conditionally granted Wife’s request for a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to vacate the order denying Wife’s motion to disqualify Law Firm. The record was clear that Law Firm represented both Husband and Wife with regard to the business and estate matters and thus there would be a conflict of interest for Law Firm to represent Husband in the divorce action. Wife did not consent to Law Firm’s representation of Husband in the divorce and thus Law Firm is disqualified. The trial court’s failure to grant Wife’s motion was a clear abuse of discretion.

Moral: An estate planner must be extremely leery of representing both husband and wife in the estate planning process. If the attorney elects to represent both spouses despite current or potential conflicts of interest, the attorney will most likely be precluded from representing either spouse separately with regard to matters related, even slightly, to the estate planning process.