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What is an attorney's obligation to his client?

Portland, OR |
Filed under: Revocable trust

What are the laws for a client who tried to contact their attorney to change their revocable trust, but did not hear back from their attorney,& therefore wrote a hand written document to suffice?This doc. having been signed by two witnesses stating the person’s intentions regarding their house & how they wanted it to be sold.(legal in oregon)The client then went to their title company for assistance as they had not heard from their attorney,&also provided this will-addendum document to the recipient family member for safekeeping should anything happen in the meantime.This family member then also tried to reach the att. & left 3 messages to please arrange an appt for his client, with no call back.The client passed away & now the att is stating his client should have sought legal counsel.

additional info: This is an established client, this attorney drafted the trust. The attorney sent a letter to the entire family regarding the trust and document, but then stating in a quarter of the letter that he never received a call, even though phone records were submitted to him as proof, and that regarding her trust the client should have sought his council, which she did. This raised a red flag to members of the family as the client and the recipient both left messages regarding this and there is proof. Is it appropriate for an attorney to essentially use a letter to the family to essentially cover himself? Also, one of the client's children called the attorney and asked him why he didn't return her mother's calls and he told her he didn't have to answer this question and she shouldn't call his office to ask him why. I think it is a fair question to ask an attorney, and should he have to respond to the family's concern over his obligation and professionalism?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. The issue is whether there was an attorney/client relationship, or whether the past relationship had ended. Was a fee paid for work that wasn't performed? Or was it simply a lawyer who had done some work in the past?

    But from your brief recitation, it is obvious that the former clients could have sought another lawyer's help before resorting to the hand written approach to the document.


  2. I agree with the previous answer. It doesn't sound to me that there was a current, or ongoing attorney-client relationship. The party could have gone to another attorney.

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