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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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