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How long does my attorney have to keep funds from a settlement in trust before he can give them to me? my attorney says has to?

Portland, OR |

I would like to know if there is some statue in Oregon whereas from a settlement, an attorney must keep the funds received for their client in trust for a time period? My attorney says he believes there is some rule or statue or something with the BAR that states he has to keep them for a few days before giving the funds to me. He says he's not sure what it is but has to check into it? Does anyone one know? I need my money as soon as possible, and don't see why I need to wait after he takes out payment for services and pays any other bills related to the case, why the money can not be released to me immediately. He did not know for sure and said had to check on it, and feels he needs to keep the funds for a certain time period. Any ideas? Is he obligated to release the funds to me soon?

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Attorney answers 3


As a general rule, it is ethically impermissible for an attorney to disburse from his/her trust account until the settlement funds are "collected." The process is delayed further by insurance companies who pay settlements with warrants, not bank checks. There may be a definite number of days suggested by the Oregon Bar, but the real time period is as long as it takes for actual funds to be delivered through the banking system into the attorney's trust account. Until those funds arrive, an attorney would be giving you money that belongs to someone else, all funds in an attorney's trust account belong to someone else.

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Your attorney has, under the bar rules here in Oregon, the responsibility to maintain a hold on any settlement funds in his office's trust account until such time as the funds are cleared through the bank and everything else is settled (i.e. any potential for appeal, reversal, additional fees, etc.) The funds are not his, they are yours, but he has to make sure that there is nothing else and the amount is finalized.

Let's say that your settlement was $5,000. He puts it into his office's trust account to hold for you. If he were to send it to you before everything clears and there is a problem for $500 of it, he just sent you $500 more than what he should have. He is thus exposed for $500 and improperly taking money out of his trust account that belonged to any other client of his, potentially creating an ethics violation on his end.

Your attorney is taking precautions with your funds to ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to receive (sans financial agreements with his office that you signed onto.) If you are concerned about the timing, you should discuss this with your attorney to make sure he is made aware of your need for the money as soon as you can. It sounds like he was just made aware of your concern and is taking some time to look into it. If that is the case, I'm sure he'll get back to you on when he feels he can release the funds.

This answer is provided as a general opinion to a question posted on an internet forum. This does not create in either party the expectation that an attorney-client relationship has been entered into between the original poster and the Law Office of Reid Seino, LLC. Any information provided should not be solely taken as legal advice but in the context of general information. Please seek legal representation for any specific legal questions.


There's no statute on point, but there are ethical guidelines that could be implicated. The relevant timelines depend, primarily, on the settlement check clearing the bank. if it's a significantly large amount, the banks themselves might issue temporary holds that must be navigated. Typically the whole process takes anywhere from 1 to 7 days.

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Parks Law Offices, LLC
Portland, Oregon
(503) 308-1080

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