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When estate administration and legal malpractice collide 

There are a host of reasons why individuals, companies and organizations may have grounds upon which to file legal action against an attorney or a law firm. Legal malpractice generally occurs when an individual or firm retained to provide legal representation fails to follow specific ethical standards of professional conduct

Just as patients can’t sue their doctors any time they are unhappy with their level of care, clients can’t sue attorneys simply because they are unhappy with their representation. Generally speaking, a client can only win a legal malpractice case if they prove that their lawyer failed to represent them competently and their incompetent approach caused harm and financial loss. 

However, there are times when a lawyer or law firm may be successfully sued for malpractice even if the lawyer’s or firm’s client is not the party filing legal action. For example, in certain estate administration cases, a legal professional hired by a now-deceased party may be sued by that individual’s estate, personal representative, beneficiaries, heirs, or other interested parties. 

Suing a lawyer retained by a now-deceased party

When someone retains a lawyer or law firm to help them craft an estate plan, that legal counsel represents the interests of the creator. Yet, once the creator is deceased, others connected with their estate may be able to hold relevant legal counsel accountable for a failure to provide the original estate plan creator with proper representation. It’s simply important to remember that harm and financial loss must have resulted from a lawyer’s or law firm’s failure for a situation to be actionable. 

If you are handling estate administration duties and you suspect that the deceased’s legal counsel may have been negligent, it’s important to learn about your options under the law. Being informed will allow you to make the strongest possible decisions on behalf of the estate, the interests of the deceased and their beneficiaries alike.