The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 65-20

April 29, 1965
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A lawyer may respond affirmatively to a prospective client who inquires as to the
lawyer’s willingness to prepare wills for the client and several fellow employees of the client.
The lawyer may not, however, initiate communications with the other prospective clients. He
may prepare the wills only after establishing an attorney-client relationship with each testator
and considering the testator’s particular problems and circumstances.

12, 27, 35 [See current 4-1.5]

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar states he was recently contacted by a friend who is an
insurance agent. This friend, and approximately twenty-five other agents from his company,
have recently had occasion to see the value of having a will. The friend has inquired whether the
lawyer is in a position to prepare a will for him and for each of the other agents and whether a
reduction in fee or fees can be provided for because of the volume of the work contemplated. So
far as the lawyer knows, the friend is the only one of the agents with whom the lawyer is
presently acquainted. The inquiry, in essence, is whether he can ethically contact either the
insurance company involved or the several agents involved, whether he can do the work at the
expense of the insurance company, and whether the fees usually charged for such work can be
reduced in view of the volume of work contemplated.
It is the unanimous view of this Committee that the lawyer can ethically advise the agent
who initially contacted him that he is willing to prepare the wills. The Committee, however,
believes it would be improper to contact directly either the insurance company or the other
agents involved. Further, a direct attorney-client relationship must be established with each of
the agents, and the wills of each should only be prepared after determination of the nature of the
individual’s problems. It cannot be assumed that a particular form of will will be satisfactory in
every case.
The Committee sees no objection to the fees for this work being paid either by the
insurance company, on behalf of its agents, or by the individual testator. A majority of the
Committee further believes that it would not be improper to indicate a willingness to do the work
for a conservative fee so long as the same is consistent with the considerations prescribed by
Canon 12 of the Canons of Professional Ethics [See current Rule 4-1.5]. With one exception,
however, it is the view of the Committee that it would be improper to make a blanket promise
that all work should be done at a reduced work rate or for a specific charge. This would appear to
tend to stimulate professional employment and to predetermine the fee to be charged before the
problems of each of the testators have been examined.