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Monday, February 27, 2012

Alta. Court rules lawyer negligent in drafting will meant to bequeath farmland

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has ruled that a solicitor was negligent in drafting a will for a client after the intended gift to a beneficiary failed.  The deceased owned land, including four quarter sections he wished to pass onto his brother through his will.  In drafting the deceased's will, the lawyer did include the bequest.  However, it was not actually the deceased who owned the four quarter sections.  Instead, the property was held by the deceased's company.  The intended gift failed and the brother sued the lawyer for negligence.

The Court found first that the lawyer owed the brother, as an intended beneficiary, a duty of care.  Next, the Court found that the lawyer had fallen below the standard of care required in failing to address the fact that the land was owned by the company: "A reasonably competent solicitor in those circumstances would, at a minimum, have asked who owned land to be gifted in the will or done a search to ascertain in ownership."

The Court awarded damages to the brother in an amount equal to the value of the land as of the date of the death of the deceased testator.  Added to that amount was some $11,200 which would have been earned by the brother as surface lease income had he received the properties.

Read the decision at: Meier v Rose.