Florida Probate Lawsuits: Conflicts of Interests and Motions to Disqualify
Are you involved in a Florida probate or guardianship lawsuit? Has a relative recently passed away in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton? Are you in the process of interviewing Florida trust and estates law firms? Have the Palm Beach law firms you’ve interviewed asked you for the name of the parties involved so that they can conduct a conflict check? How can conducting a conflict check before speaking with prospective clients help estate lawyers avoid disqualification?
Probate lawyers throughout Florida, whether their firm is located in Palm Beach County, Broward County, or Dade County, all have duties of loyalty to their clients. There are strict ethics rules that Florida probate litigators must follow. Conflicts of interest by Florida lawyers must be avoided. For example, a probate lawyer is not allowed to represent someone one day and then later be “against” that same person in the same matter. This means that if you have provided a trust and estates lawyer with confidential information regarding your probate lawsuit in Florida, that lawyer probably cannot, thereafter, represent an opposing party in that matter. A recent opinion from Florida’s 3rd DCA, Lopez v. Flores, speaks to the disqualification of a Florida lawyer.
Here, the children of the decedent, Jose Ignacio Lopez, Sr., appeal a trial court order denying their motion to disqualify opposing counsel, Kluger Law Firm. Maria Mercedes Flores retained Kluger Law Firm to represent her against the children. However, BEFORE Flores hired Kluge Law Firm, the children’s attorney had spoken to his long time friend, an associate at Kluger Law Firm, about the case. The children’s attorney testified that he had revealed to the Kluger Law Firm associate the facts and strategies he was going to employ. He had this discussion with the associate at Kluger Law Firm because he wanted to see if the associate would be interested in serving as co-counsel for the children in this matter. Does the fact that the children’s lawyer revealed confidential information about the case to the Kluger Law Firm associate disqualify that particular associate from representing the opposing party? Does it disqualify Kluger Law Firm in its entirety? To read the case, click here.