Legal Malpractice Law Review

Legal Malpractice Law Review

Research, resources & expertise in the law governing lawyers

Category Archives: Wills Trusts & Estates

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FL: Trust & Estate Malpractice: Third-Party Testamentary Beneficiary Has Standing to Sue for Legal Malpractice

Posted in Florida, Standard of Care, Wills Trusts & Estates
Gallo v. Brady, 925 So.2d 363 (Fla. App. 2006) FL: Underlying Estate Planning Student Contributor: David Drescher FACTS: Ann Gasponi employed Frank R. Brady and his law firm Brady & Brady P.A. to carry out her estate planning. In the course of this representation, Brady suggested that Gasponi create a charitable remainder trust. Gasponi apparently… Continue Reading

CT: Lack of Expert Testimony Kills A Legal Malpractice Claim Couched As a Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim

Posted in Connecticut, Expert Witnesses, Fiduciary Duty, Wills Trusts & Estates
Marciano v. Kraner, 126 Conn. App. 171, appeal denied, 300 Conn. 922 (2011) CT:  Underlying Wills, Trusts, and Estates Disputes Student Contributor: Jennifer Hanley Facts: Client’s parents were older and experiencing serious health difficulties. Concerned with preserving their property and assets, he contacted an attorney to provide advice on the matter. The attorney (“Attorney”) advised… Continue Reading

NJ: The Lawyer/Broker Conflict

Posted in Fiduciary Duty, New Jersey, Standard of Care, Substantial Factor-Proximate Cause, Wills Trusts & Estates
Lovett v. Estate of Lovett, 250 N.J. Super. 79, 593 A.2d 382 (Ch. Div. 1991) NJ: Underlying will and estate contest Student Contributor: James Quinn Facts: Plaintiffs are two former guardians and children of decedent, who passed away during this action. They allege malpractice by attorney in drafting a more simple will for their father, eliminating… Continue Reading

MD: Drafting of Legal Impossibilities Not Malpractice

Posted in Maryland, Wills Trusts & Estates
Wilson v. Clancy, 747 F.Supp. 1154 (1990) MD: Underlying Wills and Estates Planning Student Contributor: Vanessa L. Wachira Facts: In 1968, Joseph Clancy (“Attorney”) prepared separate wills for Dr. Thomas Hurney (“Client”) and his wife (“Testator”), under which their property was to be distributed in a particular manner to their relatives upon the death of… Continue Reading

CT: Lack of Statutory Exception Helps Lawyer Inherit Client’s Estate

Posted in Connecticut, Wills Trusts & Estates
Sandford v. Metcalfe, 110 Conn. App. 162, 954 A.2d 188 (Conn. App. 2008) CT: Underlying estate  matter Student Contributor: Laura Binski Facts: Five days before her death, the client called her friend and lawyer, who was licensed to practice in New York, to visit her in Connecticut. The lawyer and client were not relatives. The… Continue Reading

CT: Lawyer Owes No Duty to Beneficiaries When Will is Drafted as Client Wished

Posted in Connecticut, Wills Trusts & Estates
Leavenworth v. Mathes, 38 Conn. App. 476, 661 A.2d 632 (Conn. App. 1995) CT: Underlying will matter Student Contributor: Laura Binski Facts: The client hired the lawyer to draft her will. The client wished to distribute $40,000 to one son; $25,000 to her daughter; and two houses to her other son. After the client died,… Continue Reading

MD: Discovery Rule and its Limits

Posted in Maryland, Privity, Wills Trusts & Estates
Bank of New York v. Sheff, 382 Md. 235, 854 A.2d 1269 MD: Underlying Bond Issuance Student Contributor: Vanessa L. Wachira Facts: In a complex sale of nearly $50 million tax-exempt revenue bonds held by Prince George’s County involving numerous borrowers, Bondholders (represented by The Bank of New York (“Trustee”)), underwriters and attorneys, Piper &… Continue Reading

CT: Lawyer’s Negligent Drafting of a Will Opens Door to Third Party Liability

Posted in Connecticut, Privity, Wills Trusts & Estates
Licata v. Spector, 26 Conn. Supp. 378, 225 A.2d 278 (1966). CT: Underlying will matter Student Contributor: Laura Binski Facts: The client hired the lawyer to draft her last will and testament. The lawyer failed to ensure that the will provided the required number of witnesses. As a result, the Probate Court declared the will… Continue Reading

MO: Court Rules no harm, no foul.

Posted in Wills Trusts & Estates
Patterson v Checkett, 43 S.W.3d 477 MO: Underlying trusts and estate Student Contributor: Meghan Jean Facts: The Pattersons retained attorney Checkett to help with their estate planning. After the Patterson’s indicated what they wanted to be placed into the trust, Checkett sent them a letter indicating what could be done with the IRA and verifying… Continue Reading

NJ: No Privity, No Problem

Posted in Federal, New Jersey, Privity, Wills Trusts & Estates
Rathblott v. Levin, 697 F. Supp. 817 (D.C. N.J. 1988) NJ Underlying Probate Action Student Contributor: Christopher S. Henn Facts: The decedent, an attorney, suffered esophageal cancer for ten years until his passing. During his final days he executed several wills with the aid of the defendant, a partner in the decedent’s law firm. The… Continue Reading

NY: Hearst Heir in Legal Malpractice Claim Alleges Undue Influence

Posted in Conflicts of Interest, Family Law, New York, Wills Trusts & Estates
Hearst v. Hearst, 50 A.D.3d 959, 857 N.Y.S.2d 596 (App. Div. 2d Dep’t 2008). NY: Underlying divorce case and undue influence claim Student Contributor: Nicole Milone Facts: John Randolph Hearst, Jr. (John) suffered a stroke in 1989. He was married to Barbara in 1990. When Barbara filed for divorce in 2004, John discovered that she… Continue Reading

NJ: Supreme Court Reinstates Malpractice Case Against a Sitting Judge

Posted in Entire Controversy Doctrine, New Jersey, Wills Trusts & Estates
Higgins v. Mary Thurber NJ Supreme Court (Mar. 16, 2011) affirming 413 N.J. Super. 1 (App Div. 2010) NJ: Underlying estate accounting FACTS: The underlying matter was a probate proceeding where the beneficiaries challenged an accounting filed by the Executor. The challenge sought to contest the Executor’s sale of 2 New York Mercantile Exchange seats… Continue Reading

SC: Nonexistent Will Equals Nonexistent Duty

Posted in Privity, South Carolina, Wills Trusts & Estates
Rydde v. Morris, 381 S.C. 643 (S.C. 2009) SC: Underlying estate matter Student Contributor: Karen Dindayal Facts:  Johanna W. Knight was an elderly person, who retained Morris to handle her estate planning matters. In the estate planning questionnaire provided by Morris, Knight named Rydde and Konij as her prospective will beneficiaries on September 22, 2005.… Continue Reading

FL: Lawyer Liability for Implicit Agreements

Posted in Florida, Wills Trusts & Estates
Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A. v. McAdam, 965 So.2d 182 (2007) FL: Underlying probate representation Student Contributor: Farah Shahidpour Facts: Personal representatives of Client’s brought an action against their probate Attorney asserting claims of breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, civil conspiracy, negligence and unjust enrichment. Client asserts that Attorney wrongfully procured J.P. Morgan Trust… Continue Reading

NJ Statute of Limitations: When Does it Begin to Run?

Posted in New Jersey, Statute of Limitations, Wills Trusts & Estates
Pasqua v. Masone, N.J. App. Div., August 19, 2010 (Unpublished). Facts:  Plaintiff, the administrator of his mother’s estate, appeals from the dismissal of the estate’s complaint against the defendant attorney.  In May, 1992 Plaintiff’s mother had suffered traumatic injuries which left her with severely diminished cognitive functions.  Thereafter, Plaintiff’s brother hired an attorney who prepared… Continue Reading

PA: Death Bed Wills: Duty of Loyalty to Client or His Alleged “Agent”?

Posted in Pennsylvania, Wills Trusts & Estates
Gregg v. Lindsay, 437 Pa. Super. 206 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1994) PA: Underlying Wills Transaction Student Contributor: Melissa Goldberg Facts: Defendant drafted a will for Blain, which was duly executed. Blain was admitted to the hospital where he was confined to the Intensive Care Unit. While there, Blain was visited by his longtime friend, Plaintiff.… Continue Reading

NY: The Essential Defense Expert

Posted in Expert Witnesses, New York, Wills Trusts & Estates
Estate of Nevelson v. Carro, Spanbock, Kaster et al. 259 A.D.2d 282; 686 N.Y.S.2d 404 (1st Dept.1999) NY Underlying Estate Tax Matter Student Contributor: Natalie Resto  Facts: Plaintiff corporation was created upon the advice of defendant law firm for the purpose of organizing the financial affairs of Louise Nevelson, a deceased sculptor, and in an attempt… Continue Reading

NY: Increased Liability for Estate Planning Attorneys

Posted in New York, Privity, Wills Trusts & Estates
Estate of Schneider v. Finmann, Court of Appeals of New York, June 17, 2010 Facts: The defendant attorney represented decedent Saul Schneider from April 2000 to his death in October 2006. In April 2000, the decedent purchased a $1 million life insurance policy. Over several years, he transferred ownership of that property from himself to… Continue Reading

NY Proximate Cause; Faulty Assessment of Chance of Winning at Trial: Should I have Settled Instead?

Posted in New York, Wills Trusts & Estates
Leder v. Spiegel  31 AD3d 266, aff’d 9 N.Y.3d 836, 872 N.E.2d 1194 N.Y., 2007 NY Underlying probate Student Contributor: Ryan O’Donnell Facts: Defendant represented plaintiff in an underlying probate matter. Rather than accept a settlement offer, plaintiff decided to continue at trial, where they were unsuccessful in challenging the will. The plaintiff bases his… Continue Reading

The Co-Counsel Relationship: Friend or Foe?

Posted in Local & Co-Counsel, New York, Wills Trusts & Estates
Steinberg v. Schnapp, 2010 NY Slip Op 02991 (1st Dept. April 13, 2010) Underlying Probate Matter Facts: Steinberg and Schnapp, both attorneys practicing independently, undertook the representation of another attorney, Borstein. Borstein had retained Steinberg and Schnapp to represent him with respect to “all legal proceedings and asset administration concerning the wills, assets and estate… Continue Reading