Disposition of Deceased Sole Practitioners' Client Files and Property
To fulfill the obligation to protect client files and property, a lawyer should prepare a future plan providing for the maintenance and protection of those client interests in the event of the lawyer's death. Such a plan should, at a minimum, include the designation of another lawyer who would have the authority to review client files and make determinations as to which files need immediate attention, and who would notify the clients of their lawyer's death.
A lawyer who assumes responsibility for the client files and property of a deceased lawyer must review the files carefully to determine which need immediate attention. Because the reviewing lawyer does not represent the client, only as much of the file as is needed to identify the client and to make a determination as to which files need immediate attention should be reviewed. Reasonable efforts must be made to contact all clients of the deceased lawyer to notify them of the death and to request instructions in accordance with Rule 1.15.
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