Oakland, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: Recourse trust not completed as requested.

Four months after I presented a schedule B to be added to my trust and repeatedly said I did not want it in the body of the trust, I signed the final copy with the schedule B in the body because the attorney said it could otherwise be lost. There had been no discussion about it being in the body. After making payment I realized there were other ways to deal with a lost schedule that I wasn’t given opportunity to present.

A tenth of my payment hasn’t been paid and two letters to the attorney requesting correction haven’t been answered. Do I have recourse to get my trust changed to my original request without my being billed for the correction?

Could a second attorney make the correction with minimal time and cost?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Julie King
Julie King
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Whether language is contained in the body of a document or in an attachment that is incorporated into the body makes no difference from a legal standpoint. It’s all part of the same document. Yes, your lawyer should have honored your request to draft the document the way you wanted it. But you’re unlikely to find a lawyer who will do what you want because the bottom line is that the change will not make a difference legally. Perhaps try a paralegal or a new lawyer right out of law school who is trying to build a business. Best wishes!

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith PRO label
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It's possible that you may have recourse to get your trust changed to your original request without being billed for the correction, but it will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and the terms of the agreement you had with the attorney who prepared the trust.

If the attorney failed to follow your instructions and included the schedule B in the body of the trust without your consent, you may have a claim for legal malpractice. However, proving legal malpractice can be difficult and would likely require the help of another attorney.

As for the unpaid tenth of your payment and the letters you sent to the attorney requesting correction, it's possible that the attorney has been busy or experiencing personal issues, but it's also possible that they are intentionally ignoring your requests. You may want to consider sending a certified letter or hiring another attorney to follow up on your behalf.

It's possible that a second attorney could make the correction with minimal time and cost, but again, it will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and the terms of the agreement you had with the first attorney. It may be helpful to consult with another attorney to get a better understanding of your options and potential legal remedies.

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