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Recent Case Alert -- Paul v. Patton

Filed April 9, 2015, Sixth District

Cite as H040646

Decedent retained attorney to draft an amendment to a revocable trust. The decedent executed the amendment, which as drafted named decedent’s children and spouse as beneficiaries. After decedent’s death, decedent’s children petitioned to modify the amendment, alleging it failed to implement the decedent’s instructions by incorrectly including decedent’s spouse as a beneficiary entitled to receive an interest in decedent’s brokerage accounts and real and personal property. In connection with the probate proceeding, the drafting attorney admitted the amendment did not reflect the decedent’s stated intentions. After the probate proceeding was settled, the decedent’s children sued the attorney for legal malpractice. The decedent’s attorney successfully demurred to the complaint on the ground, inter alia, he owed no duty to decedent’s children. The appellate court reversed on the basis that decedent’s children should have been granted leave to amend to allege such a duty. Held, applying the six so-calledBiakanja/Lucas factors to these facts, it cannot be said as a matter of law that the attorney did not owe decedent’s children a duty.

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