Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ethics Issue in Recent "Dear Abby" Column

A recent installment of the famed Dear Abby column entitled Wife Discovers Man's Will Would Leave Her Homeless (Aug. 6, 2005) raises an undiscussed ethical issue.

Here is an excerpt from the letter soliciting advice:

My husband, "Girard," and I have been married two years. We both have children from previous marriages. Girard always told me I would have a home if I outlived him, even though his children will eventually inherit the property.

One day I asked Girard if it was in the will, and he said no, but that he and his children "had discussed it." When I asked him to put it on paper, he agreed. His attorney drafted a document for him to sign. After it had laid around the house for more than a week, Girard told me he had lost it. I reminded him to get another copy, sign and return it. After two more weeks passed with no signed document, Girard told me his attorney was "busy" and "would get to it when he could."

I decided to call the attorney myself. Well, you guessed it. I was told the papers had been executed. When I confronted Girard he admitted he had lied and promised to have the will done over. When I looked at the document he had signed, I saw that Girard was giving me 90 days to get out of the house after his death.

What concerns me is this -- how could "his attorney" ethically reveal to the author of the letter (wife) what Girard (the client) had or had done done?

Special thanks to Douglas Cowan for bringing this interesting column to my attention.


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