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Erie bar creates succession registry

A succession registry is being created for attorneys to designate who should be contacted to handle legal matters in the event of an emergency.

The Erie County Bar Foundation, which assists attorneys and their families during times of crisis, is working with the Bar Association of Erie County to resolve recurring emergencies by creating a Confidential Lawyer Succession Registry.

The association routinely receives calls from secretaries, spouses, colleagues and others needing guidance when circumstances interrupt an attorney’s ability to practice law.

“They look to us for help when an attorney suddenly dies or is somehow incapacitated and has made no provision for handling his or her client’s affairs,” according to President Scott M. Schwartz. “Lawyers have a duty to protect clients from adverse circumstances, and making advance arrangements for managing such circumstances will help avoid missing a court date, delaying a closing, or otherwise compromising a client’s interests.”

The process is simple: Attorneys fill out a brief registry card naming a “designee attorney.” The information will be entered into a database at the bar association. The attorney will share confidential information with the designee, who will then know the location of active files, passwords, combinations and keys, along with IOLA, escrow and operating account information. These essential details will then be held in safekeeping by the designee.

Participants began registering last month at a Bar Foundation-sponsored a seminar “Planning Ahead: Key Issues for the Lawyer Approaching Retirement.” More information is at www.eriebar.org or by contacting Katherine Bifaro at (716) 852-8687 or [email protected].