probate fraud

Corrupt coroner sentenced after probate fraud

Corrupt coroner sentenced after probate fraud

The corrupt coroner who we highlighted in November, has been sentenced to eight years in jail for probate fraud.

You may remember that this solicitor and former coroner, who spent 30 years in the legal sector, was said to have siphoned off around £2 million from the estates of his deceased clients, to fund his extravagant lifestyle which included luxury cruises and expensive cars.

From one client alone – former farmer Kenneth Goodwin, Alan Crickmore is thought to have stolen approximately £900,000.

One particularly despicable case which was highlighted, was that of Jozef Dziuma, a Pole who fought against the Nazis in the Second World War.  Despite leaving £10,000 to care for his wife and £20,000 to the Red Cross, it was discovered that Crickmore didn't even try to trace the man's brother or his GP, who had also been left money,

Crickmore was said to have carried out these despicable crimes for at least ten years before the Solicitors Regulation Authority launched an investigation, in 2010.

In court, Crickmore admitted to 16 counts of theft, seven counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud.  Sadly, most of the £2 million is unlikely ever to be returned to its rightful owners.

Law Firm Probate Fraud

Having read an article recently about a former legal executive from an East Sussex law firm, I was astounded to read that despite being placed in charge of Will writing and probate, she had absolutely no formal legal training.

Leanne Harris of Arscotts Solicitors in Hove went on to commit probate fraud; stealing almost £500,000 from clients.  It is reported, that this was to maintain a lifestyle many of us can only dream of.

Mrs Harris made transactions between clients’ accounts and wrote several false cheques to obtain the money. She also took advantage of one client, for whom she had been given power of attorney, taking almost £65,000 from the woman.

This case continues to highlight the need for the Will writing industry to be regulated – a move which is absolutely supported by IWC Ltd. Currently, the industry is self-regulated but it is highly unlikely that Mrs Harris would ever have been accepted within any of the industry bodies without having had any formal training.

This is a lesson to all of us – when looking for a Will writing and probate expert, always check that they are a member of an appropriate organisation.

How to Prevent Probate Fraud and Will Forgery

An interesting, yet sickening case has been highlighted, whereby a woman has been charged with forgery, after inventing a Will after her partner was found dead at his home.

After finding her partner dead, Karen Phillips went on to forge a Will before notifying the deceased’s family and indicating that he had written a Will prior to his death – a Will in which it is claimed that she was to be the sole beneficiary of his Estate, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Unfortunately for the accused, the Will was obviously full of errors which raised the suspicions of the deceased’s family members during probate. They then went on to contact the police.

It is unfortunate that the man in question, particularly being the owner of a business, had not had a Will professionally prepared and several copies distributed to its principal beneficiaries and family members, before he died.

Although he was only in his forties, and so no doubt felt that he was in the prime of his life, making a will would have removed any doubt about what should happen and how his Estate should be distributed, thus preventing any probate fraud from taking place.

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