Sunday, February 03, 2008

Relaxed rules on will making allows lawyer to take ex's legacy for herself

Making a will in Scotland with a solicitor is more dangerous than ever, as rules which were relaxed to enable lawyers to make out a spouse's will fail to prevent scandal after scandal.

If you are looking to make a will in Scotland - maybe you should cut out the lawyer, the accountant and a few others who definitely cannot be trusted these days to manage the affairs of deceased clients ...

The Sunday Mail reports :

Lawyer Rapped For Pocketing £78,000 Of Tragic Love's Will

Feb 3 2008 By David Taylor And Grace Macaskill

Exclusive Solicitor Made Out Ex's Legacy To Herself

A SOLICITOR has been rapped for pocketing £78,000 after drawing up her lover's will.

Louise Koulaouzos broke the rules by making a will for Ged Salmond, 40, in which she named herself as sole beneficiary.

The lawyer, 36, admitted professional misconduct after telling legal watchdogs she and joiner Ged were still together when he died in September 2006.

But Ged's family, of West Calder, West Lothian, claim they split almost three years before his fatal heart attack.

Ged's brother Steven said: "He was dating someone else when he died. We didn't know a will existed until we told Louise of his death. She said she would give the family the money but it became obvious that wasn't going to happen."

Koulaouzos, of Livingston-based KWLaw, started seeing Ged in 1996 and the will was finalised in 2002 - a year before their split.

The Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal accepted her claimthat in November 2005 their relationship "was restored and they discussed moving in together again".

But Linda Chalmers, 43, of Livingston, had been with Ged for seven months when he died.

She said: "It's an insult to Ged's memory.

"Ged and I met as I lived across the road from him and I'd have known if he was cheating on me. It's absolute rubbish."Ged's family were not allowed to attend the tribunal, or hear or challenge the evidence.

Koulaouzos escaped with a warning and can still work as a lawyer.

Ged's stepdad Jim Wynne, 63, said: "She's escaped punishment. Louise was able to say anything she liked and nobody could contest it.

"It seems to be another example of lawyers looking after each other."

The family are not challenging the will in the courts because they have suffered enough heartache already.

Steven added: "It's not about the money, it's the principle. We would have preferred it went to charity.

"I don't understand how Louise could do this. We treated her like one of the family.

"The day after he was buried we got a letter from her lawyers asking for the keys to his home and van."

The tribunal ruled by three to two Koulaouzos broke the Law Society of Scotland's code of misconduct.

She should have asked an independent lawyer to draw up Ged's papers.

The code of conduct was relaxed in 2006 to allow solicitors to make a will for a spouse or civil partner.

Asked last night about the allegations, Koulaouzos said: "That is a complete, utter lie."

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