Articles Posted in Estate Planning

by
Powell was adjudicated a disabled adult due to severe mental disabilities in 1997. His parents, Perry and Leona, were appointed as co-guardians of Powell’s person, but were not appointed as guardians of his estate. In 1999, Perry died following surgery. Leona engaged the Wunsch law firm to bring a claim against the doctors and hospital, Leona was appointed special administratrix of Perry’s estate. Wunsch filed a complaint under the Wrongful Death Act on behalf of Leona individually and as administratrix estate. The estate’s only asset was the lawsuit. A 2005 settlement, after attorney fees and costs, amounted to $15,000, which was distributed equally between Leona, Emma (the couple’s daughter) and Powell. The settlement order provided that Powell’s share was to be paid to Leona on Powell’s behalf. Leona placed both shares into a joint account. The probate court was not notified. Wunsch had referred the action to attorney Webb, for continued litigation. Emma waived her rights under a second settlement, Leona and Powell each received $118,000. A check was deposited into the joint account. The order did not provide that Powell’s was to be administered under supervision of the probate court and Powell did not have a guardian of his estate. Wunsch purportedly advised that it was “too much trouble” to go through the probate court for funds every time Leona needed money for Powell. In 2008, Emma petitioned to remove Leona as guardian of Powell’s person. The probate court appointed Emma as guardian of Powell’s person and the public guardian as guardian of his estate. Leona had withdrawn all but $26,000 and provided no accounting. The public guardian sued the attorneys and Leona. The trial court dismissed as to the attorneys, finding that the complaint failed to sufficiently allege defendants owed Powell a duty and to allege proximate cause. The appellate court determined that an attorney retained by a special administrator of an estate to bring a wrongful death action for the benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin owed a fiduciary duty to those beneficiaries and remanded, with respect to the second settlement. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re the Estate of Powell" on Justia Law

by
Karavidas, admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1979, worked for the City of Chicago, the Attorney General, and several law firms. In 1988, he opened his own practice. His father executed will and trust documents prepared by another attorney in 2000, and died later the same day. Karavidas was named executor and successor trustee. His dealings with the estate resulted in charges of conversion of assets entrusted to him; breach of fiduciary obligations; conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, in violation of Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and conduct tending to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute. The Review Board of the IARDC recommended that charges be dismissed. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Before professional discipline may be imposed under Supreme Court Rule 770, the Administrator must demonstrate that the attorney violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. Personal misconduct that falls outside the scope of the Rules may be the basis for civil liability or other adverse consequences, but may not result in professional discipline. View "In re Karavidas" on Justia Law