Learning from Sumner Redstone: A Warning to Estate Planners and Other Professionals

So, the legal drama involving Sumner Redstone and his live-in companion, Ms. Herzer, has settled. But is this the end?

Not exactly. It is reported that Mr. Redstone’s estate planning counsel remains a defendant in another action brought against her by Ms. Herzer.

In the pursuit of money, the new frontier is pursuit of the professionals involved in an individual’s planning. The trend is to bring claims against lawyers and accountants and other professionals – why – because they ordinarily have insurance! There is a growing and obvious alarming trend to bring these cases against professionals, with thin, little or no merit with the intent to scare up a quick settlement. Many attorneys who take these cases take them on a contingency fee arrangement. Often the cases turn out poorly for the claimant plaintiff.

We advise professionals to reject these extortion style attacks. In our experience, the cases often are poorly thought through and designed and often seek to apply a cheap front-end bully attempt that often ends in a fold up and blow away outcome.

The other consequence of this type of litigation is further satellite litigation spawned by these cases. When attorneys are sued, they often consider impleading accountants and other professionals into the case. The thinking is to bring them into the case because they have insurance.

Apparently in the Redstone case $75 million was not quite enough for one litigant.

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