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In re Bryan

Supreme Court of Montana

January 14, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF MATTHEW A. BRYAN, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

          Jon G. Moog Office of Disciplinary Counsel

          COMPLAINT RULES 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.15(B), U6(A), 7.1(A), 8.1(B), 8.4(C), MRPC, AND 8A(6), MRLDE

         By leave of the Commission on Practice granted on January 10, 2019, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC"), hereby charges Matthew A. Bryan with professional misconduct as follows:

         General Allegations

         1. Matthew A. Bryan, hereinafter referred to as Respondent, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana by Rule V Petition in January 2018, at which time he took the oath required for admission, wherein he agreed to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Supreme Court, and the highest standards of honesty, justice and morality, including but not limited to, those outlined in parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 61, Title 37, Montana Code Annotated.

         2. The Montana Supreme Court has approved and adopted the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct ("MRPC"), governing the ethical conduct of attorneys licensed to practice in the State of Montana, which Rules were in effect at all times mentioned in this Complaint.

         Count One

         3. ODC realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 2 of the General Allegations as if fully restated in this Count One.

         4. Respondent was admitted to the Georgia Bar on October 31, 2007.

         5. Respondent prepared the Andy H. Swain Revocable Trust (the "Trust") for Andy H. Swain, a resident of Georgia. The Trust was executed on July 1, 2011 and named Respondent as successor Trustee.

         6. Respondent witnessed the Trust and notarized his own signature on July 1, 2011.

         7. Mr. Swain passed away in 2013.

         8. The named beneficiaries to the Trust were Mr. Swain's grandchildren, Taylor Swain Mills (Taylor), A.S. (minor), and A.S. (minor).

         9. The terms of the Trust required Respondent to distribute $ 12, 000 per year to each of the beneficiaries for support/maintenance or post-secondary education, with some conditions.

         10. On January 1, 2014, the Trust had a market value of approximately £398, 000.00 in cash, equities, fixed income securities, and municipal bonds and notes.

         11. Sometime in 2016, Respondent left his law firm and the state of Georgia without notifying the beneficiaries, providing any information regarding the location or balance of the Trust, or providing future contact information.

         12. After her grandfather's death in 2013, Taylor was unsuccessful in her attempts to contact Respondent until she was finally able to locate and contact Respondent in July 2016 to request payment of tuition for nursing school. Respondent replied that he was no longer with his previous firm, his life was in "upheaval," his wife was sick, his family was homeless, and he had no cell phone or access to Wi-Fi, but that he would get the Trust file out of storage.

         13. There was no further communication from Respondent until his reply to Taylor's September 2016 email in which he apologized for the delay and advised her tuition and books would be paid. ...


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