Failure to act promptly can be costly for lawyers

By Sarita Ebbin

A recent court case in the UK provides a cautionary tale for lawyers regarding the need to act quickly upon the receipt of instructions from elderly or ill clients in order to avoid claims of negligence.

In Feltham v Bouskell, the testatrix was a ‘feisty’ elderly woman with substantial wealth. She had a longstanding relationship with her law firm as they had previously drafted wills for her, most recently in 1992, 1997 and 1998 with a codicil (the document that amends a previous will) in 2003. The 1998 will left the residue of the testatrix’s estate to be divided among three beneficiaries: a cousin, a friend and her long-time partner.

In 2002, the testatrix moved in with her partner, whose home was close to the home of the testatrix’s step-granddaughter…

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