Supreme Court Victory

/ 24.Jan, 2017
Swartz Campbell partners, Jeffrey B. McCarron and Kathleen Carson won reversal from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania of an adverse decision by the Superior Court to defeat a legal malpractice case against its clients.  The decision is especially significant to estate planning lawyers who had exposure to liability to non-clients for malpractice. The Supreme Court barred claims for legal malpractice without a signed will or trust. The Superior Court reversed summary judgment in favor of the lawyers and held that beneficiaries in an unsigned trust could recover their “lost” inheritance from the testator’s lawyer.  The Superior Court’s decision would have caused unmanageable risk to estate planning lawyers. Anyone named in a draft will or trust could have pursued a malpractice case for their “lost” inheritance based on the speculative contention the testator intended to sign.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court realized that lawyers should not be liable for an inheritance the testator never committed to give.