Tip of the Month

Tip for August 2011

Be Wary When Being Retained by Agent of Actual Client

It is not unusual for a lawyer to be approached by someone to provide legal services to someone else.  This might occur when a family member retains a criminal attorney to defend someone charged with a crime, or to represent a son or daughter in a family law matter.  Estate Planning attorneys are approached by people who ask them to draft wills, codicils or trust instruments for family members, some of whom are elderly, who are hospitalized or in an assisted living facility, or whose competence is questionaable.  Such lawyers should make it clear which of these individuals is the client, and make the client's "agent" understand that he or she is not a client, cannot direct the attorney's handling of the matter or expect the attorney to protect his or her interests.  If the lawyer agrees to represent the client and the agent, the lawyer should be sure to consider any conflict of interest, actual or potential, and to address any conflict of interest or confidentiality issues.