Question: Spouses Kenneth and Betty Herman hired an attorney Byrd to

Spouses Kenneth and Betty Herman hired an attorney, Byrd, to create an amendable trust on their behalf. The Hermans intended the trust to include that after the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse would have control of the assets, including the power to change beneficiaries. Byrd drafted three amendments to the trust. At the time of the first spouse's (Mr. Herman's) death, the trust stated that all assets were to be distributed to Michael and Don Dyer. Then, in 1996, Mrs. Herman hired a separate attorney, Stuart, who drafted further amendments to the trust. In the fourth amendment, Littell was designated as a joint successor trustee. Eventually, after Mr. Herman and Mrs. Herman died, Littell was the sole trustee, the beneficiary of a yacht, and the residual beneficiary of the trust assets. After Mrs. Herman's death, the previously named beneficiaries, the Dyers, brought suit, challenging the validity of the amendments made to the trust following Mr. Herman's death. The probate court ruled in favor of the Dyers and held that all amendments to the trust executed by Mrs. Herman were invalid. Littell filed a suit of legal malpractice, arguing that he was an intended beneficiary of the trust and was frustrated by the negligence of the defendant attorneys as his share in the trust was lost as a direct result of such negligence. The district court dismissed his legal malpractice claim, and Littell appealed. The court of appeals con- firmed the district court's ruling that the plaintiff was not an intended beneficiary of the trust and lacked third-party beneficiary standing. Do you believe Lit- tell should have been granted third-party beneficiary standing? Why or why not?

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  • CreatedOctober 21, 2015
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