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.”

 

Just Posted

Great news for Indigenous youth program in BC

The federal government came through with over $1 million in funding for Indigenous youth program

Emails show B.C. Housing disappointment with Penticton council decision

Stakeholders, B.C. Housing discouraged by council not supporting project proposed on Green Avenue

Luxury Airbnb in Kaleden has notice issued on title by RDOS

The property owner is accused of performing renovations, renting the chalet without proper permits

Low risk associated with case of pneumococcal disease in Oliver

No identified risk to the public from recent case of pneumococcal disease with associated meningitis

TGIF: Penticton and South Okanagan events listings

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

Video: What are issues do you want candidates to address?

Penticton residents share the issues that matter most to them

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read