Okanagan MP’s father fined for professional misconduct

The father of a local Conservative MP has been fined by the Law Society of B.C. for writing himself into a client’s will.

The father of a local Conservative MP has been fined by the Law Society of B.C. for writing himself into a client’s will.

For  two breaches of professional conduct Penticton lawyer Charles Louis Albas — father to Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas — has been ordered by the society to pay a $7,000 fine, as well as $1,736.25 in legal costs.

“There is no evidence that he exerted pressure on his client or that the proposed gift to himself was anything other than her true testamentary wishes,” reads the decision from the three-person panel.

However, they explain in the decision, Albas there are two cases where he should not have overseen the writing of a will he was the beneficiary of,  and that’s where he ran afoul of the law society.

“In both instances he took steps to benefit himself directly or indirectly without ensuring that his client had independent legal advice,” they wrote. “This is a serious breach of duty to a client.”

According to the agreed statement of fact, Albas was the legal representative of a woman referred to throughout the law society document as FC.

She asked him prepare a will that left half her estate to Shiners Hospitals and half to Albas, and it was executed in February 2009, witnessed by his receptionist and legal assistant.

In 2013 new rules of conduct prohibiting lawyers from preparing wills in which they receive gifts came into play, so Albas, with the consent of FC, agreed to have a third party write a new will.

He chose a lawyer with whom he shared office space to do the work, but that lawyer did not direct the preparation of the will or take on responsibility for its execution.

Albas then went about preparing a new will that instead named his wife as the beneficiary of half of FC’s estate.

He took the document to FC, but she never signed it and in July 2013 she was committed under the Mental Health Act.

Albas was able to get FC released when he wrote a letter to a hospital on her behalf, but in September 2013 she retained a new lawyer.

That lawyer wrote to Albas demanding that Albas “cease any further contact or communication with FC.”

Once the matter reached the law society, Albas admitted to his misconduct, which the panel said bode well. It still didn’t negate the missteps he made.

“The importance of ensuring the public’s confidence in the integrity of the legal profession cannot be overstated when determining an appropriate disciplinary action,” they wrote.

“Most members of the public require a will. Many of them will entrust the preparation of a will to the lawyer that they know personally. They should be entitled to rely on their lawyer to act in their best interests. Given the vulnerability of clients, the lawyer must not accept gifts from a client without ensuring that client has received independent legal advice.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: Water can freeze and boil at the same time

Your morning start for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Hunting cabins were built west of Summerland

Area around Darke Lake was once known as the Piggeries

Penticton Public Library opens with limited hours

Library was closed for nearly five months due to COVID-19

Dry Lake wildfire now classified as held

Wildfire was burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen pays nearly $8 million in wages

Figures included in latest Statement of Financial Information

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

In July, Parliament approved a $600 payment for people with disabilities facing additional expenses during COVID-19

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

Father recounts narrow escape from Shuswap houseboat fire

Saskatchewan group overwhelmed by kindness of Sicamous, Salmon Arm communities

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Merritt man arrested after allegedly touching children inappropriately

Skylar Mcleod, 24, is facing six charges, including one for sexual interference

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Alberta man’s body recovered from Okanagan Lake after five-day search

‘The depth of the water, as well as the topography of the lake, made the recovery of the deceased very challenging’ - RCMP

Most Read