The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 61-26

November 28, 1961
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
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.

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.