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Inventory Lawyer Checklist

The purpose of this checklist is to provide general information as to practical steps for the inventory lawyer to follow. It specifically does not address legal issues, such as malpractice insurance or probate matters.

On identification of an appropriate need, seek appointment as inventory lawyer by petitioning for appointment with the Chief Judge in the circuit where the subject lawyer practiced law. Copy staff counsel of The Florida Bar and bar counsel on the petition requesting appointment by emailing a copy. In many instances, these matters are not handled through the Clerk of Court. Bar counsel in the appropriate branch can provide guidance.

  1. On receipt of the order of appointment, determine whether a date has been set for filing the Initial Report of Inventory Lawyer. If so, calendar this date as well as the due dates for future periodic reports. Avoid mentioning confidential lawyer-client matters in your reports.
  2. If a probate matter is pending for a deceased lawyer, coordinate your actions with the decedent’s personal representative.
  3. Identify any active cases. Former law firm employees may be helpful in locating a list of active clients and the upcoming calendar. Notify clients of your appointment as inventory lawyer and of their need to seek new counsel. Return files to the clients, at their expense, so that they can seek new counsel. It may be appropriate to notify courts with active cases of the unavailability of the subject lawyer.
  4. Identify law office bank accounts, including trust accounts and fiduciary accounts, as well as safe deposit boxes, and review records to identify appropriate disposition of funds and property. It may be prudent to freeze the subject lawyer’s law office accounts or to transfer the funds to the inventory lawyer’s accounts to safeguard them. Generally, no disbursements from operating or trust accounts should be made absent court order. In a case where inadequate records make it impossible to determine the appropriate disposition of the funds, you should seek a court order to direct you to disburse the funds to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Unclaimed Property.
  5. The inventory lawyer will incur expenses such as mailing or storage costs. Generally, the subject lawyer is responsible for these costs, and it is appropriate to seek payment from sources such as the subject lawyer’s estate or operating account. In rare instances, the bar may be able to provide reimbursement. Please note that bar counsel’s specific prior approval is required. If authorized, please provide invoices to your bar counsel on at least a monthly basis.
  6. Once immediate client needs have been met, it is appropriate to consider disposition of the subject lawyer’s law office, furniture, and office equipment. Again, it is always best to coordinate matters with the estate, if any, and to seek a court order authorizing disposition of property after a detailed report of the inventory lawyer.
  7. Review closed client files to determine if they contain any original documents, such as original wills, or other client property where the loss would prejudice a former client of the subject lawyer. Remove and attempt to return all such documents to their owners. Seek a court order to permit disposition of the rest of the closed client files. Shredding assistance is available from the bar.
  8. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the inventory lawyer to retain original matters from client files for a defined or an indefinite period. If so, the order terminating the appointment of inventory lawyer should note this.