Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Kansas

I know of someone who is profiting off of their lawyer getting witnesses to sign a will after the person was deceased and back dating it like it was signed while they were alive. Is this an ethics violation by the Lawyer? The reason I know is because they were boasting about it.

Asked on 12/02/15, 8:35 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony Smith LawSmith

What you described is fraud and certainly contrary to the canons of ethics and a violations of The Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct for an any attorney involved. You should report this to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel in Topeka (785) 296-2486. You can ask that you remain anonymous. But, you will have to make your name known to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. And, they may have you describe what you heard in writing.

You can also report the fraud to the Judge of any specific Probate Court where you are aware that the fraud took place, or the affected parties (or their attorneys) . Your identity might be knowable in that process.

Do not go stating to the general public that the particular attorney, or their client-cofrauder is doing anything illegal or unethical. If you're wrong, you could incur civil liability. If it is the non-attorney bragging about the attorney committing fraud for their benefit, it may be that the attorney has done no such thing. If that attorney loses business because you repeated untrue accusations, you might have to reimburse the attorney for lost revenue.

It is best to let the investigation be done by the professionals. The behavior you described is horrible, and I choose to believe that you were lied to by the boaster(s). But, it should be reported to the Disciplinary Counsel, for review. It may be an ethical violation for an attorney to brag about committing fraud, even if they never have. It may also be that the attorney has no idea that this person is out claiming to conspire with them to mislead probate courts, heirs and devisees.

Nobody relishes being a tattle tail. But, some things are so serious, that it would be wrong to remain silent. If it was just the one person that boasted to you, please give the attorney the opportunity to preserve their good name, (and that of our profession), by letting the proper authority handle this information.

Good luck

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Answered on 12/04/15, 12:13 pm

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