You gotta see this:

Juan Antunez’s post on the Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog —

Probate lawyers arrested for representing client disinherited by Georgia’s Slayer Statute.

Antunez writes:  "When it comes to staying out of trouble, spotting your risk exposures is half the battle (it’s the "unknown unknowns" that will get you).  The Georgia case gives probate attorneys something else to worry about (as if we didn’t have enough already). If your fees could in any way be characterized as tainted by criminal conduct, you need to assume the worst and take appropriate precautions.  As the Georgia lawyers learned, just because you’re the friendly neighborhood probate attorney (and not some high profile criminal defense attorney), doesn’t mean you can’t get put in jail for doing your job."

Here is Professor Gerry Beyer’s summary of what happened posted on Wills, Trust & Estates Prof Blog:

  • Debra Post allegedly murdered her husband, Jerry Post, in 2002.
  • Debra hired Candice Rader and Valerie Cooke to defend her.
  • As payment for their services, Candice and Valerie accepted assets valued at over $320,000 from Debra to which Debra was not entitled because of the slayer statute (that is, proceeds of Jerry’s life insurance and some real property).
  • Subsequently, Debra pled guilty to felony murder and was sentenced to life without parole.
  • A Douglas County Georgia grand jury indicted Candice and Valerie on August 21, 2008 for knowingly taking assets which were "covered" by the slayer statute.
  • The attorneys were arrested

Under Georgia’s "Slayer’s Statute," a murderer isn’t entitled to profit from his or her victim’s estate.  Since the attorney’s were paid from the victim’s estate, they, well, what did they do?  They were charged with  six counts of theft by taking and one count of theft by receiving.  They were taken to jail after their arrest and released the next day on $100,000 bond each (according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution).

Were they really probate lawyers?   Or were they criminal defense lawyers?    What’s the difference between. . . . . . .