|This draft isn't going to work|
By Andrew Delaney
This case is about whether a lawyer owes a duty to a potential beneficiary when drafting—or more specifically not drafting—a will. Spoiler alert: there’s no duty when not drafting a will; there can be a duty when a will is actually drafted.
Let’s back up a bit for some context. Mr. Strong’s mom and stepdad got hitched in the ’60s. Mr. Strong and his siblings grew up on the homestead property, which consisted of two sections: “(1) a portion where the house was situated (House Portion), and (2) a large tract of undeveloped land (Upper Meadow).” In 1992, Mr. Strong moved back to the homestead to care for his mom and stepdad. According to Mr. Strong, stepdad told Mr. Strong that he was to inherit the entire property when stepdad and mom died.
Stepdad died in 2000 and mom inherited the entire homestead. Mom had executed a will in 1999 that left everything equally to Mr. Strong and his siblings. Mr. Strong didn’t like this plan and he discussed it with mom. According to Mr. Strong, mom said “I will leave you the house, the barn and the lower meadow, and you three kids can divide up the upper field.”