Ethics Committee Practical Ethics Article By the NHBA Ethics Committee Presented to the Board of Governors January 17, 2008 One of the newly-enacted professional conduct rules approved by the New Hampshire Supreme Court that drew comment, if
When drafting various estate planning documents, New Hampshire attorneys are frequently requested by their clients to act in one or more fiduciary roles. The drafting attorney may, at the request of the client, be inserted as a fiduciary in the document or documents being drafted by that attorney, provided that: (1) there has been adequate disclosure of information to the client, as required under Rule 1.4; and (2) the attorney makes a determination as to whether the personal interest of the attorney in being a fiduciary would require compliance with Rule 1.7(b) and that the attorney may continue to exercise independent professional judgment in recommending to the client the best choices for fiduciaries under Rule 2.1. In order to document compliance with these Rules, it would be the best practice for the attorney to confirm in writing the “informed consent” of the client to the selection of the drafting attorney as the named fiduciary.
It is ethically impermissible for an attorney to name that attorney, by default, or require the client to appoint the attorney as a fiduciary, in a document drafted by that attorney.
In the event the drafting attorney actively advertises and solicits clients to consider using the attorney as a nominated fiduciary in documents drafted by the attorney, the relationship that results from such advertisement and solicitation may constitute a “business transaction with the client” and thereby requires compliance with the more stringent Rule 1.8(a).