It saddens me when I hear of lawyers stealing money. It is disgraceful for our entire profession.
A St. Clair Shores probate attorney, Robert Buschmole, is charged with embezzlement of a trust fund that totaled nearly $400,000. Apparently the theft was discovered as the boys neared 19 years old and the attorney continued to avoid distributing the funds.
There are some important lessons here to ensure that this does not happen again.
1. Select the fiduciary carefully. Can you work with them? Have they served in this capacity many times? Are they trustworthy? Be careful who you trust. People may start with good intentions and then do bad acts. A lawyer, CPA, trusted friend or family member can all embezzle.
2. Require that whomever is serving as a trustee be bonded by a surety company for all of the money that they are managing.
3. Yearly, obtain a copy of malpractice insurance from any attorney that is serving as a trustee.
4. Require at least a yearly accounting of all funds with proof that the funds are deposited in an appropriate financial institution.
5. Require court supervision if you are ever concerned about the appropriateness of any transaction.
6. Use common sense. It is smells bad, stay away from it…
The Probate Pro serves as trustee for individuals throughout Michigan. If you would like to discuss your matter, just give me a ring.