March 01, 2018 GPSolo

REAL PROPERTY, TRUST, AND ESTATE LAW: Ethics for Estate Planning Attorneys on Charitable Boards

By Richard C. Mills

Many estate planning attorneys find serving on charitable boards to be one of the more gratifying aspects of their practices. But these attorneys can walk unknowingly into a minefield of potential conflicts of interest in their desire to make a positive impact in their communities. In 2003, the Maryland Committee on Ethics of the Maryland State Bar Association issued an ethics opinion, which later was withdrawn without comment, flatly prohibiting an attorney from drafting any bequest benefiting a charitable organization for which she serves as a director. This and subsequent opinions have shocked the charitable gift planning world and pushed this issue to the forefront in the minds of many attorneys who had not considered it before.

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