Earlier this month, I blogged about Florida’s deathbed marriage statute, which was enacted in October 2010. The American Bar Journal just reported a story about a lawyer in California who was suspended from the practice of law over her marriage to an elderly client. Apparently, the lawyer had drafted a Will for the client leaving his estate to his relatives in Norway. A couple of years later, they were involved in a relationship and the client gave the lawyer $339,000 with his relatives’ consent. Subsequently, the lawyer and client got married but the client filed for divorce the same year because the two were not living together. Shortly thereafter, the client was moved into a nursing home and died. The State Bar of California suspended the lawyer who it found “took advantage of a lonely, sick old man.”
While the client was not literally on his deathbed at the time of the marriage, the State Bar of California apparently thought it was suspect enough to discipline the lawyer for her conduct. The ABA article does not address the underlying legal issue of whether the relatives can or did challenge the marriage and the lawyer’s spousal inheritance rights in California, but it’s an interesting footnote to my earlier blog.