Attorney-client privilege is a legal term that can be complicated but it is very important and so I want you to know what it is and what it can mean/affect you and/or your family.
The communication between an attorney and a client is confidential. The attorney cannot reveal the information received by the Client to third parties and in many instances, not even to a Court!
The confidentiality is owned by the client, which means that only the client can reveal or authorize for the information to be revealed.
The attorney cannot reveal client communication. This privilege also covers the attorney’s staff (assistants, secretaries, paralegals, etc.).
As it related to Estate Planning . . .
What the Attorney-Client Privilege means to you, as the client? As the client, you know that your attorney cannot disclose your wishes and desires with your family members, friends, or anyone else without your consent. So, if you want to case/estate plan to be private, the attorney must keep it private.
In Estate Planning, we encourage clients to be open and inform family members of their intentions because we truly believe that this avoids bigger conflicts in the future, but ultimately, it is the client’s decision.
What the Attorney-Client Privilege means to you, as the family member? The family member must understand that it is not the attorney’s fault that they did not know about their parents or close family member’s wishes until the Will or Trust is administered (at this time, it is too late to make changes). So, again, we encourage open communication with close family members about your own estate plan and about their estate plan!
What he Attorney-Client Privilege means to the attorney? The attorney must follow the rules and ethical standards of the legal profession. As an attorney, we are put in a difficult situation. Attorneys can often be victims of false accusations and complaints by unhappy family members who do not realize that the attorney is only complying with a very important rule – attorney-client privilege. The attorney is only doing her job by protecting the secrecy and confidentiality of the client that trusted the attorney. “Whatever the client says to the attorney, stays with the attorney!”
Personally, I highly value my client’s trust and I accept this responsibility with pride!
What is not covered by the privilege: As with every rule, there is an exception. An attorney cannot keep confidential information about the intention of the client to commit a crime. In Florida Estate Planning cases, after the client passes away, the attorney may be compelled by a Court to disclose the client’s intentions if there is a Will/Trust contest.
To avoid future conflicts, I highly encourage you to talk about your estate plan with your family!
Any questions, send us an email: ysuarez@YSLawyers.com or give us a call at 305-456-7158.
Yahima Suarez, JD
Yahima Suarez, PA