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Loss Prevention Tip #27

How to Avoid Malpractice Claims in your Wills & Estates Practice

Malpractice claims in Wills & Estates practice have increased steadily over the last decade.

Communications issues (often at the time the will is drafted) are the biggest source of these claims. Too many lawyers are not truly listening to the client’s instructions and not probing and questioning the client to uncover facts that may cause problems later. It’s important to read between the lines instead of simply filling in the elements of a will template or precedent.

Wills and estates is an extraordinarily complex area. Lawyers who practice in this area must maintain a working familiarity with a wide range of statutes and may need to apply complex provisions of the Income Tax Act. Law-related errors are more than twice as likely to occur in the wills and estates area as compared to other areas of practice.

Ensuring you understand the client’s needs, knowing the relevant law and avoiding shortcuts can help prevent claims. Detailed documentation of your conversations with, and instructions from, the client can support a lawyer’s defence should a claim be made.