Planning Ahead: Succession Planning Guide

It is hard to think about events that could render you unable to continue practicing law. Unfortunately, freak accidents, unexpected illness, and untimely death do occur, and if they happen to you, your clients’ interests may be unprotected.

For this reason, a lawyer’s duty of competent representation includes arranging to safeguard the clients’ interests in the event of the lawyer’s death, disability, impairment, or incapacity. One of the comments to Rule 1.3 of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct emphasizes the need to be prepared for the unexpected, particularly on the part of sole practitioners:

To prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a sole practitioner’s death or disability, the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan, in conformity with applicable rules, that designates another competent lawyer to review client files, notify each client of the lawyer’s death, disability, extended absence, or inability to practice, and determine whether there is a need for immediate protective action.

Rule 1.3, W.R.P.C., comment [5] (italics supplied).

The Wyoming State Bar is publishing this handbook, with the permission of the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund from which it is adapted, to help you fulfill your ethical responsibilities and to reduce future malpractice claims against you and your estate. Many professional liability insurers require the lawyers they ensure to make similar arrangements.

Planning Ahead Handbook Petition for Appointment of Surrogate Order Appointing Surrogate Designate your surrogate!