But the probate/trust attorney told me that I do not need my own attorney. Is that true?

We have seen some of the biggest problems develop from this simple question.  The context of this question is that you are a beneficiary of a trust or estate.  You called the attorney to ask him/her some questions, and the paralegal or secretary told you that your own attorney would just increase the cost.  It is possible that could be true, but remember that the trust/estate attorney does not represent you.  The trust/estate attorney represents the personal representative/trustee.  If the attorney is knowledgeable, then that attorney will know that there is case law that suggests that the attorney has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries as well as the personal representative or trustee.  But often what happens is that the attorney for the personal representative/trustee is not that knowledgeable, and that attorney who purportedly represents the personal representative/trustee ends up acting as the representative for the personal representative/trustee in their individual capacity.  This can result in the attorney taking positions that are directly adverse to your interests.  You will now know when this happens unless you have your own advocate.  You should never sign something if you do not understand what you are signing and the larger the estate/trust the more important it is that you have someone that can advise you whether the estate/trust is being administered correctly.  We have seen beneficiaries lose millions of dollars because the beneficiaries trusted the attorney for the estate/trust and signed a document waiving important rights or failed to assert claims in a timely manner.
Matthew A. Linde
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