Beneficiary Can’t Sue Attorney for PRs

By Doug Chalgian on September 8, 2022

Kathryn is one of four co-personal representatives of an estate.  She is also a beneficiary.

Kathryn believes that the attorney that represents her and the other co-PRs provided negligent advice which caused the estate to be diminished.  Kathryn sues the attorney for legal malpractice in her capacity of a beneficiary.

In Muvrin v Cooper, the COA affirms the trial court’s dismissal of Kathryn’s complaint on summary disposition. [Click on the name to read the case.]

The COA notes that a beneficiary lacks privity to sue an attorney who represents a fiduciary.  Citing MCR 5.117(A), the COA states an attorney who represents a fiduciary, represents that individual in their fiduciary capacity and not as an individual or as a beneficiary.  That is, Kathryn, as a beneficiary, had no attorney-client relationship with the targeted attorney.

Further, while there are limited exceptions to the privity requirement in cases involving attorneys who draft defective testamentary documents, (1) those exceptions are narrow and (2) this case does not involve a defective testamentary document.

Finally, the COA notes that while Kathryn has privity with the targeted lawyer in her role as co-PR, because in this intestate estate the rule is that all four co-PRs would have to agree to pursue such a claim, she does not have the authority to go it alone.  [citing MCL 700.3717]

The case is unpublished.

 

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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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