Attorney-client relationships involving diminished capacity

The relationship between an attorney and a client in Florida might seem fairly straightforward: the attorney offers representation at the request of the client with his or her best interests in mind. Yet does it ever become an attorney's right to determine what the best interests of a client might be? Many come to us here at St. Denis & Davey questioning when an attorney might have overstepped his or her bounds, to which we tell them there are situations were one might act on a client's behalf withouth his or her consent. One such scenario is where a client is of diminished capacity, and if you have a loved one in such a situation, your knowledge of ethical attorney conduct might help protect him or her. 

According to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (as shared by the American Bar Association), an attorney is to treat a client with diminished capacity the same way that he or she would any other. Thus, if you have a loved one in such circumstances that is being represented by an attorney, then you should help him or her understand that he or she still has the right to determine the course of his or her representation, even in situations where his or her desires and that of the attorney may be at odds. 

If, however, the attorney representing your loved one believes him or her to be at risk of physical, emotional or psychological harm due to his or her diminished capacity, the attorney can take unauthorized action to protect your loved one's best interest, even to the point of asking that he or she be placed under the care of a conservator or guardian. More information on how attorneys may deal with different clients can be found here on our site. 

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