Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Heyer v. Flaig case brief

Heyer v. Flaig case brief summary
449 P.2d 161 (Cal. 1969)

Plaintiff daughters, beneficiaries under their deceased mother's will, brought a malpractice action against defendant attorney who drafted the will. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) sustained the attorney's demurrer, ruling that the legal malpractice statute of limitations, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 339(1), barred an action filed more than two years after the will was drafted. The daughters appealed.

According to the mother's instructions, the attorney drafted the will to leave the mother's entire estate to the daughters. The mother told the attorney she intended to remarry, which she did after executing the will. Upon the mother's death, her husband claimed a portion of her estate as a post-testamentary spouse under Cal. Prob. Code § 70.


  • On appeal, the court held that the attorney, who negligently failed to fulfill the mother's testamentary directions, incurred tort liability for violating a duty of care owed directly to the intended beneficiaries, the daughters. 
  • The statute of limitations did not begin to run until the mother's death, when the attorney's negligence became irremediable. 
  • Prior to the mother's death, the daughters had no recognized legal interest in their mother's estate and could not have brought an action against the attorney.

The court reversed the judgment of dismissal and remanded to the trial court with directions to overrule the general demurrer and for further proceedings.

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