Documenting Client Discussions to Avoid Negligence Claims


Summary

This practice note sets out the importance of documenting client discussions in order to avoid negligence claims in the area of wills and estates. It includes a list of common causes for claims, such as lawyer/client communication failures, time and deadline-related errors, and clients accompanied by a major beneficiary. It explains best practices for the initial client discussion, such as the use of information sheets, and sets out tools to avoid a conflict of interest (including the lawyer's duties under the Rules of Civil Procedure). It also provides best practice tips for the initial in-person consultation, and explains client discussions documentation, the retainer agreement and the non-engagement letter. Last, it discusses termination provisions in the retainer, the contents of a will instruction checklist, documenting inventory of assets, estate trustee appointment, and custody and guardianship of minors.