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Adrian Corbould: Welcome to the Battle of Wills series where I’ll be talking about contested wills, estates, and legal matters generally. Today, I’m going to talk about acting for multiple clients. In contested estate matters, this generally occurs where there are multiple executors or where there are multiple claimants. If you’re an executor and there are other executors to the will, all of you can be represented by the one lawyer and that is preferable because the estate has to have a uniform position to advance any matter. They can’t have multiple positions to proceed. Generally, a lawyer acts for multiple clients such as multiple executors in defending claims brought upon the estate.

When you are instructing a lawyer and you are one of multiple clients, your instructions have to be uniformed to that lawyer. They can’t be mixed instructions because if they’re mixed the lawyer cannot act on those mixed instructions. The benefit of if you are a multiple client is that your costs are shared equally between the other co-clients. Whereas, if you were to each have your own lawyer, then that’s individual sets of legal costs and there is a economy of scale in the one lawyer acting for the multiple clients.

In the instance that you’re a multiple executor and you’re instructing one lawyer with your co-executor and you don’t agree with the other decision of your co-executor, your lawyer can’t continue acting or they can’t act on those multiple instructions. You have to have a uniform position in order for your lawyer to continue. When lawyers act for multiple clients, there is a benefit in that it makes the matter proceed faster, the overall costs are less but that comes with the hindrance that if you don’t agree with your colleagues, that lawyer can’t continue. If that persists, you each then have to cease instructing that lawyer and then seeking your own legal representation which slows the matter down, becomes much more expensive.

If you are one of a group of multiple clients instructing a lawyer, whatever you tell that lawyer, your lawyer has to share with the other co-clients. If you want to keep something private, keep it to yourself. don’t tell your lawyer because your lawyer then has to disclose it to all your co-clients. That’s all for today, look forward to talking to you again soon.

Turnbull Hill Lawyers, and specifically Adrian Corbould and Mary Windeyer, have been named in the prestigious 2022 Doyles Guide. Both were also listed in the 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 guides.

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