Trusts & Estates
Thorsen v Richmond SPCA: Third-Party Beneficiary Claims Against the Drafting Attorney
by Jennifer Villier, JD | Business Law Faculty, WealthCounsel
The strict privity rule has long protected estate planning attorneys from lawsuits brought against them by disappointed beneficiaries. While some states have crafted broad exceptions to strict privity in the estate planning context, in the majority of states, absent fraud, or a malicious or tortious act, attorneys cannot be sued by non-clients in an estate planning matter. Nevertheless, estate planners should be aware of the potential for third-party liability as case law interpreting strict privity law continues to develop.
For example, a recent case out of the Virginia Supreme Court, which found a drafting attorney liable for the intended third-party beneficiary’s loss, may be of interest to estate planners nationwide given the breadth of the holding and its examination of precedent in other jurisdictions.
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