Exactly who is liable when a will goes wrong depends on state laws, which vary. Under New York state law, for example, a lawyer can only be sued for his work by the client. An heir thus may not be able to sue over a will, according to Blattmachr.

A dozen or so states are working on bills that would shield against unintended effects from the one-year tax hiatus, mostly by applying 2009 rules by default to wills and other documents. States that have either passed laws or are considering legislation include Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Maryland, Washington, Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia, according to the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

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