This case results from an error in judgment that took place in 2003, more than 11 years ago. A lawyer instructed a staff member to falsely attest that certain persons had witnessed the signing of a will. This is one of the easiest of disciplinary cases for the administrator to prove.
Here are the pertinent allegations:
“6. On April 7, 2003, Respondent met with William at the home of Davette Haley (hereinafter “Davette”) in Chicago, Illinois. Davette is Melba’s daughter. At that time, William reviewed and signed the will Respondent had drafted. At the time that William signed the will, Respondent, Melba, Davette, and Wanda Young, Melba’s daughter, were present, though none of them signed as witnesses to William’s signature.
7. On or about April 8, 2003, Respondent brought William’s will, as described in paragraph five, above, back to his law office. At that time, Respondent instructed his employees, Diane Brady (hereinafter “Brady”), Pamela Hayes (hereinafter “Hayes”), and Jennifer Bisbiskis (hereinafter “Bisbiskis”) to sign the attestation on William’s will as purported witnesses to William’s signature on the document.
8. On or about April 8, 2003, Brady, Hayes, and Bisbiskis purported to witness the signature of William Young on the will described in paragraph five, above, by signing below and attesting to the following:
We certify that the above instrument was on the date thereof signed and declared by WILLIAM B. YOUNG as his will in our presence and that we, at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses thereto, believing WILLIAM B. YOUNG to be of sound mind and memory at the time of signing.
We, the undersigned, being the testator and the witnesses, respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that the testator, in the presence of witnesses, signed the instrument as her [sic] last will and that he signed willingly; and that each of the witnesses, in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other, signed the will as a witness and that to the best of his or her knowledge the testator was at that time of legal age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.
9. At no time had Brady, Hayes, or Bisbiskis witnessed William’s signature on the will. At all times, Respondent knew that Brady, Hayes, and Bisbiskis had not witnessed William’s signature on the will.
10. On February 17, 2011, William died.
12. On or about November 3, 2011, Respondent filed the will with the probate court and the will was admitted to probate. Pursuant to the will, Melba was appointed Independent Executor of the estate.”
Again, as always, please note that these are allegations which have not been proven.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.