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Model Rules for Trust Account Overdraft Notification - Rule 1

Rule 1 - Clearly Identified Trust Accounts Required

Lawyers who practice law in this jurisdiction shall deposit all funds held in trust in this jurisdiction in accordance with [Rule 1.15(a) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct] in accounts clearly identified as "trust" or "escrow" accounts, referred to herein as "trust accounts," and shall take all steps necessary to inform the depository institution of the purpose and identity of such accounts. Funds held in trust include funds held in any fiduciary capacity in connection with a representation, whether as trustee, agent, guardian, executor or otherwise. Lawyer trust accounts shall be maintained only in financial institutions approved by the highest court of the jurisdiction or the state lawyer discipline agency.


Under Rule 1.15(a) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct or its equivalent, a lawyer must maintain client funds in an account separate from the lawyer's own property. Trust funds for a lawyer's own spouse or minor child and a lawyer's own funds properly held in a non-fiduciary capacity, such as funds in a business or personal account, do not fall under this rule.

It should be noted that although Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 generally requires that trust accounts be maintained in the state where the lawyer's office is situated, trust property may be held outside the lawyer's home jurisdiction upon consent of the client. The overdraft notification rule governs funds held within the adopting state. A lawyer's obligation to deposit trust funds in an approved institution will arise upon adoption of the overdraft notification rule in a state where the lawyer deposits trust funds, whether that state is the state wherein the lawyer's office is situated or some other state.


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Center for Professional Responsibility