Solicitor penalised for using expired power of attorney

Thursday, 27 October 2016

A Leeds solicitor has been fined for using a power of attorney to withdraw money from a client's (Mrs AC) bank account after her death, though he acted with the consent of her sole beneficiary (her son, Mr JC).

The solicitor, Graham Parkin, was a close friend of the deceased Mrs AC, and of her only son JC. Although aware of her death on 9 June 2015, over the subsequent weeks he made three withdrawals from her personal bank accounts, amounting to approximately GBP52,000.

Some of this money went into the client account held by his employer, Henry Hymans, to persuade the Scottish Local Authority, the seller of a property being purchased by Mrs AC's grandson, to extend the grandson's 12-month right to buy. This transaction had been specifically authorised by Mrs AC before her death.

A further sum of GBP12,000 was paid into Parkin's wife's personal account and later transferred to the Hymans client account. It was used to help buy a property for Parkin's daughter. Parkin later repaid this money to the estate.

The other funds were either used for legitimate and authorised estate expenses, or were not used at all and returned to the estate account.

Further payments were made from the account of Mrs AC, of approximately GBP14,000 - bringin the total to GBP66,000 - 'including payment for work undertaken on Mrs AC's property, funeral costs and other expenses incurred by her son, Mr JC, the sole beneficiary of her estate', says the Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales).

Although the estate, and its sole beneficiary JC, have not lost from the transactions, the case went to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, because the cash transfers were done using an invalid power of attorney that had automatically lapsed on Mrs AC's death.

In an agreed settlement published this week, Parkin admitted that his use of the expired PoAs, and in particular using some of the money to buy a property for his own daughter, undermined public trust in the profession. He agreed to pay GBP2,000 plus GBP5,000 costs.


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