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The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 61-26
November 28, 1961

It would be wholly improper for a foundation to provide counsel to advise and prepare wills for guest and constituents while being retained solely by the foundation to represent its interests.

Canons: 6, 35, 47

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

The Committee has received an inquiry as to whether a Foundation might employ a house attorney to serve on the staff and assist certain people in the matter of wills, exclusively representing the Foundation, and who would counsel Foundation guests and constituents in the matter of their wills.

The Committee unanimously finds that such action on the attorney's part would be improper and unethical and would violate possibly Canons 6, 35 and 47 of the Canons of Professional Ethics. Mr. Drinker, in Legal Ethics, page 160, states: “The practice of drawing wills for trust companies to have their patrons sign is wholly improper, particularly where the lawyer is expected to have the trust company named executor and trustee.” We think this is analogous to the stated situation. The drawing of a will requires a direct attorney-and-client relationship. The attorney must look out for the best interests of the client, and we believe the proposal to be a clear violation of Canon 35, which, among other things, states:

A lawyer's relation to his client should be personal, and the responsibility should be direct to the client. . . .

A lawyer may accept employment from any organization, such as an association, club or trade organization, to render legal services in any matter in which the organization, as an entity, is interested, but this employment should not include the rendering of legal services to the members of such an organization in respect to their individual affairs.

We, therefore, hold that it would be wholly improper to provide counsel to advise and prepare wills for guests and constituents of a foundation.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]