Articles Posted in Legal Malpractice

Boyar died in 2010, suffering from dementia. His will, under which his son Robert was administrator, distributed all property to a trust for the benefit of Boyar’s children and grandchildren. Under the trust, Robert and a bank were named co-trustees, with a provision that a trustee could be removed by beneficiaries. Less than a month before his death, Boyar had executed an amendment naming a lawyer who was his neighbor as trustee, not be subject to removal by beneficiaries. The trust provided that personal property should be divided among the children by their own agreement, which they began to do about a week after the demise. A few weeks later the lawyer informed Robert of the amendment and demanded a personal property itemization. Robert believed that the amendment, not changing substantive dispositions, was orchestrated to permit the lawyer to maintain control of the trust and collect fees. The circuit court rejected a claim of undue influence and dismissed the petition challenging the amendment. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that there was no need to address whether the “doctrine of election” (applicable to will contests) should be extended to living trusts that serve the same purpose as a will, since that doctrine could not be invoked under the circumstances. Allowing Robert to challenge the amendment had no impact on substantive distribution. By accepting the items of personal property, he cannot be said to have made a “choice” that precludes the challenge.View "In re Estate of Boyar" on Justia Law