Oregon Law Practice Management: Unclaimed IOLTA Funds


If unclaimed funds remain in the trust account, the lawyer must comply with ORS 98.302-98.436 (Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act). This statute sets out the procedures for reporting unclaimed funds to the Department of State Lands. In no circumstance may the lawyer take these unclaimed funds for his or her own purposes. OSB Legal Ethics Op No 2005-48.

When a check paid out of client funds is not cashed by the recipient, those funds revert to the client and should be reimbursed to the client. If you can’t find the client after holding the sum for two years, you must report it to the Department of State Lands and deliver the funds to the Oregon State Bar. (SB 687 effective January 1, 2010.) You must take reasonable steps to find the client and must maintain reasonable records sufficient to permit the client to make a claim for the return of the property for the period permitted by the Act. One way to avoid this problem is to carefully monitor canceled checks. If a check has not cleared the trust account for two months, track it down immediately.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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