A Lawyer Steals…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 was 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. Macomb County prosecutors alleged Buschmohle was the sole administrator of a living trust established by Derek Tate for his wife and three sons prior to Tate’s death from cancer in 2007. Buschmohle was charged in February with embezzlement over $100,000 and pleaded no contest to the charge in August after investigations by Warren police and the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. He will spend 18 months to 20 years in prison and must repay all of the $315,000 he stole from a trust fund set up for the children of his father’s best friend and business acquaintance. He has since been disbarred from the state bar of Michigan.

Lawyer Steals: How to Prevent this Behavior

There are some important lessons here to ensure that this does not happen again. What can you do to prevent this behavior?

  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 personal representative and trustee for individuals throughout Michigan. If you would like to discuss your matter, just give me a ring.

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