Informal Opinion Number: 990102

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Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2016, subdivision 4-1.15(f) of Rule 4 was repealed and a new subdivision 4-1.15(f) adopted in lieu thereof.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: In the process of closing files, Attorney discovered a few cases having small trust account balances. Attorney has attempted to contact the clients in each case, but has been unable to locate the clients. What should Attorney do with the remaining funds?
ANSWER: Attorney must continue to make efforts to contact the clients. If Attorney has been unable to locate the clients by the time the escheat statute takes effect, Attorney may follow that statute to dispose of the funds. In the meantime, the funds must be kept in a trust account.

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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