Informal Opinion Number: 2023-07

Adoption Date: July 27, 2023

Rules: 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Trust Accounts and Property of Others
Subject: Retirement (see also Inactive Status or Of Counsel); Trust Accounts and Safekeeping Property
Summary: lawyer closing trust account upon retirement

Question: Lawyer is planning to retire in a few months and is no longer holding funds in a client trust account. Does lawyer need to do anything besides close out the client trust account?

Answer: Upon retirement, Lawyer must do a reconciliation of the client trust account and ensure that all funds are accounted for and distributed appropriately. Rule 4-1.15(a)(7). Only if there are no undistributed funds may Lawyer close the trust account. Records of the client trust account, including of the final reconciliation, must be maintained for at least 6 years in accordance with Rule 4-1.15(f). Once the account is closed, Lawyer should contact the Missouri Lawyer Trust Account Foundation to notify it of the closure of the account and provide an appropriate certification as to Lawyer’s annual enrollment statement pursuant to Rule 4-1.15(h)(1) that Lawyer is not engaged in the practice of law.

If Lawyer has unidentified funds in the client trust account, Lawyer should follow Formal Opinion 118 and the guidance provided by Informal Opinions 2020-18, 2011-01, 990217, 960158, and 940091. If Lawyer has funds of a missing client or third person in the trust account, Lawyer should follow Formal Opinion 118 and the guidance provided by Informal Opinions 2020-17, 20000129, 990102, and 960053.

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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