Earlier this month I reported on the charges pending against Bronx County Surrogate Lee Holzman for failing to properly supervise a crony who had improperly billed an estate by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today’s New York Post has now done some in-depth reporting on this story in an article which also brings to light other alleged scams in other counties.
While the overwhelming majority of attorneys would have nothing to do with the shenanigans reported on here, the sad fact is that these cases do occur from time to time and , when rogue lawyers have the protection of a judge or clerk they are extremely hard to root out and prosecute.
The key to protecting oneself and one’s clients from this sort of thievery is to make sure that there is a sensible estate plan in place and that the client is protected by a properly drawn and executed will and, if necessary, a trust. It is also necessary to update these documents so that new executors, guardians and trustees can be appointed after those originally designated die, become incompetent or move away. All of this will keep an estate from being administered by lawyers appointed by the court who may or may not do the job the client would have liked to have seen done.