Estate planning attorneys frequently work with elderly clients. In their role as legal counselor, practitioners have privileged access not only to the financial status but also to theinterpersonal relationships of their elderly clients with family members and caretakers on whom they are often depend for physical and emotional care and support. This privileged view sometimes reveals signs of abuse – physical maltreatment, either willful or through neglect, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation. This raises troubling legal and ethical issues for the attorney. This program will examine the ethical and legal obligations of an attorney to report signs of physical abuse or financial exploitation, when and to whom, and the practical implications of those affirmative steps on confidentiality and other aspects of the representation.
Ethics issues for attorneys with evidence of abuse of elderly clients
Differing issues for physical v. emotional v. financial abuse or exploitation
Permissibility or obligation to report signs of abuse out to a governmental agency or others
Conflicts of interest, confidentiality, attorney-client privilege issues
Best practices for aiding clients in distress while remaining ethically compliant
Daniel J. Hoffheimer is a partner in the Cincinnati office of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, where his law practice concentrates on advising nonprofit organizations and charitable foundations, and estate planning, trust and probate law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and formerly served as a Lecturer-in-Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Mr. Hoffheimer formerly served as the president of Cincinnati Bar Association and currently serves on the Section Council of the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of the Ohio State Bar Association. He received his B.S. from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Thomas E. Spahn is a partner in the McLean, Virginia office of McGuireWoods, LLP, where he has a broad complex commercial, business and securities litigation practice. He also has a substantial practice advising businesses on properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections. For more than 20 years he has lectured extensively on legal ethics and professionalism and has written “The Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work Product Doctrine: A Practitioner’s Guide,” a 750 page treatise published by the Virginia Law Foundation. Mr. Spahn has served as member of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a member of the Virginia State Bar's Legal Ethics Committee. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law