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Hall v. Kalfayan
California Court of Appeal
190 Cal. App. 4th 927 (2010)
Alexandra Turner had a will leaving her entire estate to her niece. Turner’s mental health declined, and a conservatorship was created to help care for Turner. Turner’s longtime friend, Carlyle Hall (plaintiff), was appointed as her conservator. Hall later contacted attorney Lawrence Kalfayan (defendant) to help Turner revise her will to add Hall as a beneficiary. During a personal meeting, Turner told Kalfayan that she wanted slightly more than half her estate to go to Hall and slightly less than half to go to her niece. Kalfayan drafted a proposed will for Turner based on these vague instructions. Under the terms of Turner’s conservatorship, a court was required to approve any will changes. Over the next three years, Kalfayan presented several versions of a proposed new will to the court for approval. However, Turner passed away before the court approved a new will. Thus, Turner’s operative will was the one leaving her entire estate to her niece. Hall sued Kalfayan for legal malpractice, claiming that (1) the new will had not been approved prior to Turner’s death due to Kalfayan’s negligence and (2) this negligence caused Hall to lose more than half of Turner’s estate. The trial court dismissed Hall’s legal-malpractice claim, finding that Kalfayan did not owe any duty of care to Hall. Hall appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Epstein, J.)
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