Monday, December 28, 2009
An attorney went to the hospital to visit a 95 year old client who had suffered a broken hip. The client wanted to have a will drawn that would make the lawyer his sole beneficiary and name the lawyer's son as contingent beneficiary. The lawyer consulted another lawyer (respondent) to draft the will. Respondent did so without by inserting the information provided by the lawyer into a form will without consulting with the client or ascertaining competence. Respondent's paralegal met the lawyer at the hospital with the will, which the client executed in the paralegal's presence after the lawyer met privately with the client. Shortly after the will was signed, the lawyer instituted guardianship proceedings based on claims that the client was incapacitated. The client later consulted independent counsel and left his estate to Indiana University.
The Indiana Supreme Court imposed a 120 day suspension of the respondent. The court expressed concern about respondent's attitude after the charges were brought, noting that he displayed a "troubling lack of insight into his duty of undivided loyalty to the client." Respondent claimed that his decision not to meet the client was in order to minimize legal fees.
The lawyer who had procured the will has been suspended for three years.(Mike Frisch)