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Ohio Holds That Beneficiaries Do Not Have Standing to Sue the Lawyer Who Drafted the Estate Planning Documents

Meisler was a “potential” beneficiary. She argued that the lawyer who drafted the estate planning documents committed legal malpractice because he did not include certain language in the estate planning documents. In some states a beneficiary can sue the lawyer who drafted estate planning documents. Ohio rejects this concept and holds that only a party in privity with the lawyer (usually the person who retained the lawyer) can file such a lawsuit. The problem is that the person who is in privity with the lawyer is usually deceased. In such cases, privity provides a complete defense to malpractice claims. The Ohio court notes that the executor of an estate might have standing to assert an error that diminished the value of the entire estate. However, the executor would not have standing to sue for an error that impacted the claim of one beneficiary.

The standing doctrine of the Ohio cases is, in my view, too narrow and is unfair to many estate beneficiaries. Obviously, this is an issue that is controversial.

Source: MEISLER v. Weinberg, 2017 Ohio 1563 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 8th Appellate Dist. 2017 – Google Scholar