Ethical Issues in International Estate Planning (Portfolio 872)


Michael Heimos


Michael A Heimos PC


Christopher Reimer


Long Reimer Winegar Beppler LLP

At a glance

I. Introduction
II. Competence
III. International Representation and the Unauthorized Practice of Law
IV. Foreign Counsel and Legal Consultants
V. International Advertising
VI. Avoiding Providing Assistance to Fraudulent or Criminal Activities


Bloomberg Tax Portfolio, Ethical Issues in International Estate Planning, No. 872, discusses professional responsibility issues that tend to arise when an estate planning practice crosses international boundaries. Many of the ethical standards applicable to estate planning lawyers in general apply to international estate planning. But this Portfolio focuses on issues of special concern for international planning.

Despite its international focus, this Portfolio is directed at U.S. lawyers. While international planning often implicates foreign laws and rules, this Portfolio is largely based on the framework provided by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) adopted by the American Bar Association (ABA). International ethical issues frequently have domestic analogues. For example, unauthorized practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction bears many similarities to the longstanding issue of unauthorized practice across state lines by U.S. lawyers. The application of domestic ethical rules to estate planning in general is dealt with in more depth in Price, 801 T.M., Ethical Rules for Estate Planning Lawyers — Conflicts, Confidentiality and Other Issues. This Portfolio discusses some of those rules, as well as domestic and foreign regulations, as they tend to become relevant in the international planning context.

The function of this Portfolio is to provide information about the following issues, which can arise when providing estate planning advice and services to international clients:

  • Determining applicable ethical and legal rules
  • Providing competent representation
  • Avoiding committing unauthorized practice of law
  • Hiring and associating with foreign lawyers and legal consultants
  • Advertising international practice
  • Avoiding providing assistance to fraud, money laundering, terrorism, and other unlawful activities.

The Worksheets include a table of Model Rules relevant to international estate planning, sample engagement letter, notice of termination of representation, asset protection solvency affidavit, steps for ensuring professional responsibility compliance, anti-money laundering and terror finance screening procedures, a sample fee splitting agreement letter, and sample letterhead for a multinational partnership.

This Portfolio may be cited as Heimos & Reimer, 872 T.M., Ethical Issues in International Estate Planning.

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