LEO: Estate Administration: U.S. Attorney  LE Op. 1159


Estate Administration: U.S. Attorney Serving as an Administratrix

Under a Will Naming the U.S. Government Beneficiary.


January 4, 1989


You advise that you are an Assistant United States Attorney who will act

as executrix or administratrix for a certain estate naming the United

States of America as sole beneficiary. As administratrix you would not act

as counsel. Furthermore, your office has retained a private attorney to

probate the will and to handle all attorney functions.


You wish to know whether any conflict of interest or other ethical

violations may arise as a result of your relationship as the employee of

the sole beneficiary in a will and performing your obligations as

administratrix of the estate.


The Committee opines that your acting as administratrix on behalf of the

beneficiary, your employer, does not present a conflict of interest under

the limited facts you have presented in your inquiry in light of the

applicable disciplinary rules and ethical considerations. Since the

beneficiary has engaged private counsel, it appears that no attorney-

client relationship exists between you and your employer, and, as you have

stated, you will not be in an advisory capacity as administratrix, nor

will you act as counsel for the beneficiary. The Committee would advise

that while no apparent ethical violation exists under the facts of your

inquiry, we cannot opine as to whether statutory law may prohibit a

federal government employee from acting as administratrix or executrix of

an estate which names the United States of America the sole beneficiary.


If a situation should arise in which an attorney-client relationship may

exist, you may provide the Committee with such additional pertinent

information from which we can make a determination as to whether a

conflict of interest exists.


Committee Opinion January 4, 1989