Who is allowed to sit in the meeting when a elderly client is changing their will?

My dad passed away last January. When we got the will read, we learned that there had been many changes to the will that benefited his last girlfriend. We also found out that the lawyer he used was recommended by her. Whenever we ask questions about this latest will, they get very defensive. Could these lawyers have allowed her to sit in on these meetings with my dad? It seems like she had a lot of influence on him. Is there are law against that or is it totally legal?

Davenport, IA -

Attorney Answers (4)

Robert E. Millsap III

Robert E. Millsap III

Probate Attorney - Seattle, WA
Answered

If that was your father's desire, then it is fine. If she was exerting undue influience, then it is not fine.

A lawyer could allow her to sit in on the meeting if your father desired that but the lawyer should ask her to leave at some point to talk with him privately. Again, you are trying to avoid undue influence.

Was this a long term girl friend? I could see them getting defensive if they were hiding something, but I can also see them getting defensive if the final will was just as your father wanted it but they were afraid the children would contest it.

Steven M Zelinger

Steven M Zelinger

Probate Attorney - Philadelphia, PA
Answered

I do not know if this answer would be different for the state involved here if it is IA but in most states I know of this is not against any law or necessarily unethical. It may effect confidentiality between the client and attorney but that does not make it against the law or improper. As a general practice many attorneys would suggest at least having some time alone with a client if there is an inclination that a person is influencing but I know of no specific statute or rule prohibiting a close family member or friend from such a meeting.

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is... more
Donald Joseph Quinn II

Donald Joseph Quinn II

Probate Attorney - Kansas City, MO
Answered

What's the value of the probate estate? If she was really trying to get his assets why didn't she just have herself put on them? Did she have a power of atty over your father? These questions and others must be answered by a lawyer of your choosing. Good luck.

Legal disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of... more
James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Probate Attorney - Livonia, MI
Answered

It sounds like you have a few red flags. But the biggest problem is that you need very compelling evidence of undue influence in order to overturn a Will. If you have facts where your father was losing his capacity and was susceptible to undue influence, and you can prove that, you may have a shot. But most courts are extremely reluctant to overturn a Will. You will have a major uphill battle.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and... more

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