Informal Opinion Number: 20000129

Rules: 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Trust Accounts and Property of Others

Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2016, subdivision 4-1.15(f) of Rule 4 was repealed and a new subdivision 4-1.15(f) adopted in lieu thereof. This opinion is based on Rule 4-1.15 in effect prior to that date.

Reference Note:  Rule 4-1.15 was amended, effective July 1, 2013.  This opinion is based on the rule in effect prior to that date.  Please see the July 1, 2013 version of Rule 4-1.15.

QUESTION: Attorney´s firm has several clients´ monies in the firm´s trust account dating back several years. The firm does not have a way of contacting the clients in order to disburse these funds. What should Attorney´s firm do? ANSWER: As long as Attorney continues to hold those funds, Attorney should make reasonable efforts to locate the former clients. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances, including the amount of the funds. After Attorney has held the funds for the period specified by the escheat statute, Attorney may follow the terms of that statute and turn the funds over to the state.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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