Case Update -- In re Guetersloh
Monday, February 28, 2011
Gerry Beyer in Beyer, case update, procedure, trustee

In re Guetersloh, 326 S.W.3d 737 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2010, no pet. h.).

TRUSTS -- Pro Se

Trustee attempted to represent himself pro se, that is, without an attorney, in both his capacity as a trustee and in his individual capacity.  The appellate court held that Trustee had no right to proceed pro se in his representative (trustee) capacity but could proceed without an attorney with regard to claims in his individual capacity.

The court explained that allowing Trustee to proceed pro se in his representative capacity would be the unauthorized practice of law.  The court stated that “if a non-attorney trustee appears in court on behalf of the trust, he or she necessarily represents the interests of others, which amounts to the unauthorized practice of law.”  The court relied on Steele v. McDonald, 202 S.W.3d 926 (Tex. App.—Waco 2006, no pet.) in which the court held that a non-lawyer may not appear pro se in the capacity as an estate’s independent executor.

Moral:  A trustee who is not an attorney may not appear in court pro se in the trustee’s representative capacity.

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Gerry W. Beyer
Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law
Texas Tech University School of Law
1802 Hartford St.
Lubbock, TX 79409-0004
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