Is it ethical for an estate attorney to demand that no one be present with the elderly client while reviewing her trust?

My mother asked me to attend her appointment to review her trust. She received a letter from her attorney ‘reminding’ her that she must attend the meeting alone due to attorney/client priviledge and to ‘rule out undue influence from others’.

Asked on September 6, 2017 under Estate Planning, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is ethical, and it is also common: the estate planning is for your *mother*, no one else. If someone else is there, they may pressure her about what to do; and even more importantly, having non-clients around weakens or can void attorney-client privilege, since the non-client does not fall under that privilege, making the discussions with the lawyer discoverable by others in a way they are not if only the lawyer and client were present. The lawyer would actually be failing in his ethical duty if he did not insist that your mother attend by herself. 


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