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Facilitator's Guide - Wills and Estates Case Study (The Last Will)

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It was 3 p.m. on Friday, September 21, 2018, and Janet Darden had promised to contact her client, Sylvain Pelletier, by the end of the day.  Sylvain’s previous lawyer had obtained an opinion from a respected senior lawyer recommending a shortcut that would save the client a significant amount of time and money, but that would, in Janet’s view, be unethical.  Janet only had two hours to decide what to advise her client.

Objectives

  1. This case is intended for a study group discussion session on professional responsibility in Wills and Estates Litigation.
  2. Participants will be expected to put themselves in the position of the lawyer, Janet Darden in the case and to identify and analyze the legal, professional and personal challenges she faces.
  3. Participants will also be expected to develop alternatives and an action plan for resolving the issues in accordance with the lawyer’s professional obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
 
 Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Competence, rr. 3.1-1, 3.1-2
  • Honesty and Candour, r. 3.2-2
  • Advocacy, rr. 5.1-1, 5.1-2 (b), (e)
  • Integrity, r. 2.1-1
  • Courtesy and Good Faith, r. 7.2-1
  • Duty to Report Misconduct, r. 7.1-3
 
Suggested Discussion Questions
Assume that you are the lawyer in this case and answer the following questions with reference to the relevant Rules of Professional Conduct:
  1. What are your duties to the client, Sylvain Pelletier, in this case?
  2. What steps should you take if your client instructs you to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, but not to disclose all the relevant documents?
  3. What are your duties to the senior lawyer who gave the opinion?
  4. Do you have a duty to report that senior lawyer to the Law Society of Ontario?  Why or why not?