Informal Opinion Number: 2020-16

Adoption Date: 2020

Rules: 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Safekeeping Property
Subject: Trust Accounts and Safekeeping Property
Summary: disputed funds

QUESTION: What action should Attorney take when Attorney has notice of an apparently valid lien against settlement funds in Attorney’s trust account and Client directs Attorney not to pay the lienholder from the settlement funds?

ANSWER: Attorney should promptly distribute any funds in which the interests are not in dispute; hold the disputed funds in trust; refrain from distributing the disputed funds until the dispute between Client and the lienholder is resolved; and, if necessary, file an action to have a court resolve the dispute. Rule 4-1.15(e) and Comment [8]; see Informal Opinions 970075 and 20000023. 

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