A Massachusetts woman is being accused of representing herself as a lawyer to a man and creating a will on his behalf. The daughter of the man says the woman exerted undue influence over him, and that the will should not be considered valid. The entire matter has ended up in probate court following the death of the man.
The specifics of the case being reported so far indicate that the woman who drafted the will does have a law degree from a foreign nation, but she is not a lawyer. She doesn’t have a license to practice law in the state of Massachusetts or any state in the country, it seems. That doesn’t, however, preclude her from drafting a will.
Anyone can actually write a will, which is why there are DIY options available. That doesn’t mean that anyone should write a will, and doing it yourself can lead to a variety of legal problems you might not face if you worked with someone experienced. However, these types of issues are not what has brought this case into a probate battle. In this case, the man’s daughter is claiming that the woman took advantage of him.
First, she’s saying that the will was created and signed under undue influence. The will actually leaves the man’s $1.2 million estate to the woman who drafted it, which could seem suspicious. The woman’s lawyer is saying that the man was her life-long friend, and there is nothing unseemly about the circumstances. Meanwhile, the man’s daughter has accused the woman of holding herself out as an attorney. While writing the will would not be illegal, representing herself as an attorney would be illegal.
This case is a great example of how gray the line can sometimes be in the law and how easy it might be to cross it. To avoid issues of confusion with estate matters, it’s a good idea to work with a professional who is experienced in all aspects of the law and has the right license.
Source: Vineyard Gazette, “Tangled Probate Dispute Involves Dukes County Manager,” Steve Myrick and Julia Wells, Nov. 17, 2016