Published on:

Matter of Hickey

NY Slip OP 05895-August 25, 2016

The decedent died on July 14, 2016, without a plan for what would happen to his law office in the event of his passing. The local bar association, Tompkins County Bar Association(TCBA) moved for an Order to appoint a lawyer as a custodian of the files in decedent’s office in order to protect the decedent’s clients. TCBA also moves (Rules of Professional Conduct 22 NYCRR 1200.0) Rule 1.15 (g) for a lawyer to be appointed as a successor signatory for the decedent’s clients. The Lawyers Fund for Client Protection and The Committee on Professional Standards did not oppose.

The Court granted the motion and the TCBA was appointed as the custodian of the law firm (Matter of Van Zandt 53 AD 3d 982[2008]). The issue of a successor signatory for the decedent’s law firm was denied with the appropriate application made to the Supreme Court (Rules of Professional Conduct [22 NYCRR 1200] Rule 1.5 [g][2].

The motion of the Plaintiff TCBA is granted; it is the guardian of the files for the decedent and taking whatever action necessary to notify the clients of the decedent’s passing.

The court order that TCBA will comply with the Rules of the Appellate Div., 3 Dept. (22 NYCRR 806.11). The TCBA shall refrain from releasing any information in the client files without prior consent.

The TCBA will apply to the court for proper instruction on discharge of their duties.

The TCBA’s motion seeking the appointment of a successor signatory for the decedent’s law files and bank accounts is denied.

Upon the application of the TCBA the court will determine compensation and the costs incurred.

The TCBA will submit a status report in 45 days, which will include the name and address of each client.

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