A pro se is an individual who has not retained a lawyer and appears in court to represent himself and no other person or entity.
Yes. One need not be a lawyer to serve as an executor, administrator, or guardian. However, the executor, administrator, or guardian must be represented by counsel.
As executor of a decedent’s estate, you don’t represent only yourself. An executor represents the interests of beneficiaries and creditors. This responsibility to act for the benefit of another is known as a fiduciary relationship. It gives rise to certain legal obligations and responsibilities that require legal expertise. The attorney you hire represents you in your capacity as executor and assists you in representing those to whom you are responsible.
Lawyers don’t just fill out forms. Lawyers (1) determine what method of probate or guardianship is appropriate in a particular situation, (2) create or adapt any necessary paperwork, and (3) advise the client about the ongoing responsibilities of a fiduciary. Unless you are a lawyer, your creating legal pleadings while acting as a fiduciary would constitute the unauthorized practice of law.
The only proceedings that you can handle as a pro se are those in which you truly would be representing only yourself. For example, an individual may apply to probate a will as a muniment of title when he or she is the sole beneficiary under a will and there are no debts against the estate other than those secured by liens against real estate. This procedure can be a viable option in some situations, but not in others. Whether a muniment of title is the correct probate procedure for a particular situation is a legal decision that is best made by a lawyer. Note that anyone falsely swearing that the estate has no creditors -- including Medicaid estate recovery -- is subject to a perjury charge.
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