Hall v. Kalfayan: Estate Attorney Owes No Duty to Non-Client, Potential Beneficiary When Testamentary Instrument Has Not Been Signed

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There have been a number of decisions addressing the issue of when it is that an estate-planning attorney owes a duty of care to a non-client in connection with the drafting of a testamentary instrument. In Hall v. Kalfayan, (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 927, the Court of Appeal (Second District, Division Four), in a published decision, weighed in on this issue.

In Hall, the attorney had undertaken to prepare an estate plan on behalf of his client, but had failed to complete the plan before the client’s death. The attorney was then sued for malpractice by one of the potential beneficiaries who had been listed in the draft estate plan but received nothing as a result of the testamentary documents not having been executed.

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