Martha Ferguson, et al. v. Berton O'Bryan - 7/24/13

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Wednesday  July 24, 2013 
10:30 AM  EST

10:30 a.m. 49A02-1211-CT-917. In 2005, Attorney Berton O’Bryan assisted Mary Linder in drafting and executing a will.  The will made reference to a list of specific bequests, which Linder would update from time to time and keep with the will, and provided that the personal representative of Linder’s estate should honor the list as if it were set forth in the will.  O’Bryan provided Linder with blank sheets upon which to record these specific bequests, and the sheets contained neither instructions nor designated spots for the bequests to be signed and witnessed.  Upon Linder’s death, the will and completed list were discovered and admitted to probate, but the list was declared invalid.  Thereafter, a group of Linder’s relatives who had been named in the list brought a legal malpractice action against O’Bryan alleging that he had been negligent in advising Linder and drafting the will.  O’Bryan successfully moved for summary judgment on the basis that he owed no duty to the relatives because they were neither his clients nor known third-party beneficiaries.  The relatives now appeal.

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