The Full Court of the Tasmanian Supreme Court has decided that a solicitor who failed to warn his client about a potential claim against his estate and what steps might be taken to undermine the claim is negligent. 

The will maker told his solicitor he wanted a will that gave everything to his step-son and nothing to his daughter.  He owned two properties as tenants-in-common with his step-son and that made up most of his estate.  After his death his daughter successfully challenged the will convincing the court that her father should have made substantial provision for her in the will.  The estate paid the daughter $345,000.  The step-son then sued the solicitor for that amount. 

The step-son argued that the solicitor should have told the will maker that he could have altered the form of ownership of the property so that upon the death of the will maker the step-son automatically owned the property.  This would have been achieved by altering ownership to a joint tenancy.  Alternatively he could have advised the will maker to dispose of assets during his lifetime. 

The court held that the solicitor was liable.  The solicitor, or perhaps his insurers, have now been granted special leave to appeal to the High Court. 

For more information contact:

Justin Hartnett
Principal
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5225 5220
E: jhartnett@harwoodandrews.com.au

Jenny Orchard
Principal
Harwood Andrews Bendigo
T: 03 5430 3888
E: jorchard@harwoodandrews.com.au

Andrew Robson
Principal
Harwood Andrews Ballarat
T: 03 5329 6920
E: arobson@harwoodandrews.com.au

Sarah Cohen
Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 5226 8574
E: scohen@harwoodandrews.com.au