Most of us try to keep our work lives and personal lives separate. This is especially important for fiduciaries, professionals who handle money and other assets on behalf of clients. The law requires fiduciaries, including attorneys, to keep their clients’ assets separate from the fiduciary’s own funds.
How commingling can make your money ‘disappear’
Failure to do this is called “commingling,” or combining client funds with your own. This most often means taking money belonging to the client and putting it in your personal bank account. Whether an attorney does this to steal from their client or because they do not want to bother following the American Bar Association’s guidelines for safekeeping clients’ property, the result can be catastrophic for the client. Without separate accounts and careful record-keeping, the amount of money belonging to the client versus the attorney can easily get confused. The attorney might negligently (or purposely) spend some or all of the money that does not belong to them.
A fiduciary in Kansas City has a legal responsibility to take care of their client’s property in the client’s best interests. Stealing or losing your money or other property through commingling is obviously never in the client’s best interests. This violation of the lawyer’s fiduciary duty can cost the client money they were relying on to purchase real estate or conduct business. It was never intended to enrich the attorney’s pocketbook.
You do not have to accept commingling by your attorney. Legal malpractice is a viable claim in Missouri. You have the right to seek compensation from a lawyer who violated their fiduciary duty towards you.