Danger signs when a family member tries to speak for a client

When estate planning attorney Bill first met John and Mary, they were in their early 50s, alert and vigorous. Over the years, their health has declined, but they still were clear on what they wanted and didn’t want.

Recently, their youngest son Mike has called Bill and said that John had a stroke which upset Mary so much that she became severely depressed. Mike tells Bill that he (Mike) is now helping his parents, and that they want to turn over the management of all their assets to him.

Bill tells Mike that he needs to meet with John and Mary privately to discuss their wishes. Mike says that everything should be handled by phone, that his parents want him to speak for them, and that they have given him a power of attorney to confirm their intent.

Bill responds that he has legal and ethical duties to communicate directly with his clients, that Mike is not his client, that Bill must verify that his clients have capacity and that they are not acting under the undue influence of any person.

Mike begins to yell at Bill, probably in the hope that Bill will back down. Bill does not back down. Mike tells Bill that his parents no longer wish him to be their attorney in light of Bill’s bad attitude. Bill tells Mike that he (Bill) will send a letter to John and Mary confirming that he will no longer act as their attorney.


About randyspiro

I am a super lawyer in California with dual specialization in Estate Planning and Taxation.
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