Wednesday, July 13, 2016
In Martin v. Sheehan, a court dismissed an estate planning malpractice case, involving a beneficiary and an attorney. The plaintiff’s mother hired the defendant attorney to help her draft a trust. Her son was named the beneficiary of the trust, and the trust document was later changed to name a third person as trustee. The beneficiary son sued, claiming malpractice and asserting that he should have been named trustee. Upon the court’s ruling, it focused on the necessity of privity between a plaintiff and an attorney, noting that a person cannot sue an attorney unless that attorney represented the person. Additionally, there is one narrow exception to this rule, which allows a person to sue the attorney if that attorney’s services were intended to benefit them. This exception, however, did not apply in this case.
See Jeffrey Skatoff, Federal Estate Planning Malpractice Case Dismissed for Lack of Privity, Florida Probate Lawyers, July 11, 2016.