Question

Francis brought suit against Piper and his law firm, alleging Piper committed legal malpractice when he drafted a series of wills for Heine, Francis's brother. Heine, who had never married, had no children; Francis was his sole sibling and closest living relative. In 1987, after Heine suffered a stroke, the district court appointed a conservator for him. In 1990, Heine met Resick, a waitress at a deli he frequented.
In December 1991, Resick referred Heine, who did not have a will, to Piper. Piper prepared three successive wills for Heine. The first left all of Heine's estate to a church. The second left $20,000 to Resick and the remainder of Heine's estate to a church. The third left all of Heine's estate to Resick. If Heine had not executed a will, Francis would have been Heine's sole heir under the intestacy laws. After Heine's death, Resick submitted the third will to probate. Francis challenged the will, and eventually reached a settlement with Resick that provided Resick would receive $80,000 and Francis the remainder of Heine's estate. Francis then brought this action against Piper, alleging Piper was negligent because Heine was under a conservatorship, lacked testamentary capacity, and was suffering from the effects of undue influence. Piper moved for summary judgment, asserting Francis could not bring a legal malpractice action against him. Under applicable state law, an attorney is liable to a nonclient third party only if the client's sole purpose in retaining an attorney is to provide a benefit directly to the third party. Was Francis such an intended beneficiary?



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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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