When a client fails to deposit a trust refund check, you should make reasonable efforts to verify any changes to the client’s address. If you are unable to locate the client, check with your state or local bar association to see what your next steps should be. The bar rules may require you to wait an additional period of time before determining that the funds have been abandoned.
Once the funds are considered to be abandoned, most states have a statute that sets out what your firm must do with the unclaimed funds. This typically involves turning the funds over to a designated state agency. Bear in mind that if your client has died, the trust funds should go to the Personal Representative or Executor of the client’s estate rather than to the state agency.
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