The New York State Supreme Court (Shafer, J) reiterates that to sue an attorney for malpractice arising out of alleged negligent will preparation there must be an attorney client relationship before the beneficiaries may sue for legal malpractice in New York. That is, there must be “privity” of contract between the attorney and her client before the client has standing to sue for legal malpractice. For a complete copy of the recent decision Leff v Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP.
Beneficiaries of wills who get less than they think they are due often call us to determine if they have any claims against the attorney. The answer in New York State tends to be who, if anyone, may sue for legal malpractice when attorneys make mistakes planning estates.
As upheld by this Court, New York is one of the few states which recognizes the “doctrine of privity,” meaning that, when the decedent died, she may be the only one who could have sued the attorney for screwing up the estate plan. This rule is relaxed in the presence of “fraud,