Every aspect of estate and trust planning, lying at the fault lines of family and emotion, money and mortality, is fraught with major ethical issues for lawyers. Couples and sometimes families will want attorneys to represent all of them, even when their interests clearly conflict. Maintaining confidences about highly sensitive family matters is challenging, particularly when working with an elderly client with diminished capacity. Clients will want to give attorneys gifts, but at some point the receipt of those gifts is either improper or can lead to allegations of impropriety. This program will discuss major real-world ethical issues at each step of a representation, including working with clients with diminished capacity, conflicts of interest, confidentiality issues, and gifts from clients.
Conflicts of interest – joint and common representations, husbands and wives, entire families
Confidentiality – understanding what information is confidential and when and to whom it can be disclosed
Trustees – special issues in representing fiduciaries
Capacity – understanding when a client has diminished competence and the implications for decision-making and confidentiality
Gifts – what can and can’t be accepted from clients and what shouldn’t
Blanche Lark Christerson is a managing director at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in New York City, where she works with clients and their advisors to help develop estate, gift, tax, and wealth transfer planning strategies. Earlier in her career she was a vice president in the estate planning department of U.S. Trust Company. She also practiced law with Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City. Ms. Christerson is the author of the monthly newsletter “Tax Topics." She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, her J.D. from New York Law School and her LL.M. in taxation from New York University 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 School.
William Freivogel is the principal of Freivogel Ethics Consulting and is an independent consultant to law firms on ethics and risk management. He was a trial lawyer for 22 years and has practiced in the areas of legal ethics and lawyer malpractice for 20 years. He is chair of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct. and past chair of the ABA Business Law Section Committee on Professional Responsibility. He maintains the Web site “Freivogel on Conflicts” at www.freivogelonconflicts.com. Mr. Freivogel is a graduate of the University of Illinois (Champaign), where he received his B.S. and LL.B.