Paul v. PattonAnnotate this Case
Paul retained attorney Patton to draft an amendment to his revocable living trust. Paul signed the “Trust Amendment,” which, as drafted by Patton, named his wife, Helen, and his children, Stephen, David, Alan, and Nancy, as beneficiaries. Stephen and David also are the successor trustees. Following Paul’s death, they petitioned the probate court to modify the Trust Amendment, alleging it failed to conform to Paul’s intentions by erroneously granting Helen an interest in brokerage accounts and personal and real property. In that probate court action, Patton admitted the Trust Amendment did not reflect Paul’s intention that his brokerage accounts and personal and real property be divided among his children. Stephen and David settled the probate court action with Helen. The children filed the legal malpractice action, alleging that Patton failed to exercise reasonable care in performing legal services by failing to draft the Trust Amendment in a manner consistent with the decedent’s intentions. The trial court dismissed. The court of appeal reversed. The trial court erred in concluding as a matter of law that the children could not establish Patton owed them a duty as beneficiaries; they should be permitted to amend their complaint to allege such a duty.