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Failure to file probate appeal allegedly cost siblings $100M

With multiple clients having active cases at once, it is important that Los Angeles law firms stay organized. Without sufficient planning, important deadlines, such as for filing deadlines, might fall through the cracks.

An attorney who forgets to take care of each step on a client’s case puts that client’s case in jeopardy. They could lose the lawsuit, not on the merits, but because the attorney let the client down.

The consequences can be highly costly. An attorney malpractice lawsuit in Georgia contends that three siblings lost more than $100 million because their attorneys forgot to file an appeal to a probate court decision, thus allowing the deadline to file to appeal to lapse.

The siblings’ uncle died in 2012. He had no children. Under the terms of a will he executed in 2001, he was to leave shares in a real estate company that the siblings’ great-grandfather founded. That same year, the suit says, the uncle was diagnosed with dementia.

After he died, it was revealed that he had executed a new will in 2005 that left nothing to the two nieces and one nephew. Instead, a woman who was one of the executors of the uncle’s estate received more than $1 million.

Believing the executor had used undue influence on the uncle to write them out of the will, the siblings hired a law firm. The firm recommended filing an appeal of the court’s decision to accept the 2005 will. But the attorneys never filed the appeal.

The firm admits not filing the appeal. An attorney representing the firm in the legal malpractice case says that the plaintiffs’ claims were “probably not a winner,” so they did not suffer damages due to the firm’s negligence.

Source: Daily Report, “Missed Deadline Could Cost Firm $100M,” Alyson M. Palmer, Sept. 26, 2014