File No. 2464/9.
The Acting Secretary of State to the Italian Chargé.
Washington, July 2, 1910.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of June 18 inquiring in regard to the provisions concerning the functions assigned to American consuls in the making, writing, and receiving of wills.
In reply I have the honor to state that it is no part of a consul’s duty to take any action either in drawing wills or accepting them for deposit, although in some instances they are permitted by treaty to draw up testamentary dispositions. Their general instructions require them to decline to perform these as well as all other legal services except in cases where no lawyer is available and where delay would work hardship upon any American citizen. Even in such cases they are required to inform the interested person that the services are performed at the applicant’s risk and that the Government of the United States can not be held responsible therefor. They are also prohibited by law from performing any legal services in their private capacity for compensation.