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Lawyer Whose Client Died Mid-Settlement Can’t Accept Offer

Sept. 22, 2021, 5:15 PM

A New York lawyer negotiating an out-of-court settlement for a client in a personal injury case can’t proceed with the matter after the client died of unrelated causes, a state bar group said.

A client’s death “terminates the attorney-client relationship,” and a lawyer can only proceed if authorized to by the client’s personal representative, the New York State Bar Association said in an ethics opinion Tuesday.

The attorney was unsuccessful in locating a personal representative, the opinion noted. Lawyers are under no obligation, however, to seek one out, it said.

Because ethics rules dictate that only a client can decide ...

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