Why do estate planning attorneys have high malpractice rates?

It may have been good news to you to learn that your family member in Florida hired an attorney to draft estate planning documents. However, even if your loved one is satisfied that things were carried out properly, there could be mistakes that do not show up until later, when the will is read.

According to St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics, nearly 11 percent of legal malpractice lawsuits relate to attorney conduct in matters regarding estate planning, trusts and probate. One cause of malpractice could arise from situations where the attorney trusted the client. 

While this may seem counterintuitive, an attorney should not assume that a client is providing accurate information. He or she should always request evidence. If your family member named accounts, employee benefits, debts and insurance policies without providing documentation, there could be either intentional or accidental errors. For example, a person may claim that an asset is jointly held, believing that it will go to the other person on the account and avoid the probate process. If this is not true, and the asset is not named in the will, his or her intent may not be honored, and taxes may reduce the amount inherited.

If your loved one made unusual or suspicious decisions, the attorney should not have taken them at face value and proceeded. Instead, they should have been documented, along with the steps taken to ensure that the consequences of the choices were understood. One possible outcome of this type of lapse in responsibility could be a will that is easily contested. This information about estate planning errors and attorney malpractice is general in nature, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

This information about estate planning errors and attorney malpractice is general in nature, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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