Administrator Takes Client’s Property

| General

Lawyer Disciplined for Brazenly Transferring Deceased Client’s Million Pound Property to Himself

On a daily basis, legal professionals are appointed and instructed to administer the estates of deceased persons. Under normal circumstances the duties include: 

  • Collecting up the assets of the deceased’s estate such as monies contained in a variety of bank accounts
  • any property which the estate may have owned, 
  • personal effects of the respective deceased person in question, and 
  • any other property the deceased may have had ownership of at the date and time of death such as cars. 

If the deceased had the foresight to leave a will then the property is then distributed under the terms of the appropriate last will. However, in early June 2022 news emerged of a lawyer who had been instructed to act as the executor of a will and was supposed to act professionally as above. It was noted that the client sadly passed away around six years ago in June 2016. 

All appeared to be fine and above board until a source at the firm of the solicitor began to notice some concerning activity on the client’s bank account. By way of example, It was observed by the firm that some five months after the client had passed away and before the matter went through the process of probate evidence came to light showing that the solicitor had proceeded to transfer a property owned by the deceased in his own name. There were also bank transactions made some eight weeks after this.

The lawyer in question failed to communicate with the deceased’s grieving relatives, the estate, or any of the beneficiaries about the extracurricular activities he was carrying out on the deceased person’s estate. They had absolutely no idea what the solicitor they had entrusted to act in the best interests of the client had been up to behind the proverbial scenes. 

It was only when the solicitors began an internal investigation that it suddenly dawned on them that there were questionable discrepancies in the deceased estate’s account. The extent of the solicitor’s activity became much clearer when it came to light that on nearly thirty separate occasions money held in the sacrosanct client account had been transferred to the lawyer’s private bank account. 

This was not the end of the story for the solicitor in question. Further investigations revealed a bank account that was opened in the solicitor’s name and when confronted about this during the investigation process he held his hands up admitting that the account was his and he had made arrangements for monies to be paid into this account. The solicitor admitted that the monies were effectively being paid to himself directly and in turn bypassing the firm’s bank accounts.

Pages Turned…Lessons Learned

Legal professionals should be taking notice of this case and ensuring they are acting with honesty and integrity in line with the Solicitors Code of Conduct Principles of Practice. They should also avoid bringing the profession into disrepute by acting professionally at all times, treating client monies held in the client account as sacrosanct in property transactions. They should avoid the temptation of transferring monies to seemingly shady bank accounts and committing fraudulent transactions which may be described as complicated. 

If legal professionals take only one message from this debacle then it is to avoid being motivated by greed. They should run a mile from finding themselves in a situation where they are transferring monies into their name at the same time as pocketing a substantial amount of cash contained in the client account.

ASSESSING FIRMS

#AddleshawGoddard #CMS #EvershedsSutherland #DLAPiper #PinsentMasons #Shoosmiths #Brabners #DACBeachcroft #DavittJonesBould #DWF #GateleyPlc #HillDickinsonLLP #JMWSolicitors #KuitSteinartLevyLLP #Mills&Reeve #SquirePattonBoggs #TLT #Clyde&Co #BrownJacobsen

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Solicitor transferred dead client’s £1m home into his name – Law Society Gazette – 6 June 2022 - Solicitor transferred dead client’s £1m home into his name | News | Law Gazette

[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority – James Borbor Allie – 19 May 2022 - SRA | Allie, James Borbor - 281656 | Solicitors Regulation Authority

[SOURCE 3] Solicitors Code of Conduct for Solicitors

[SOURCE 4] Principles 2-6 Solicitors Code of Conduct for Solicitors – Solicitors Regulation Authority

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