A solicitor who used a deceased client's money – with the consent of the client's sole beneficiary – to help his daughter buy a property has been fined £2,000 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Graham Trevor Parkin, admitted in 1982 and a former equity partner at Leeds firm Henry Hyams, was a close family friend of the client and acted in a personal capacity under three separate powers of attorney before her death in June 2015.
After the client died intestate, Parkin made withdrawals totalling £40,000 from her personal bank account, according to an SRA notice. On 27 August he paid £12,000 into his wife’s personal bank account: payments of £11,000 and £12,000 were used to assist with the purchase of a property for his daughter.
Parkin said all the payments were made in the full knowledge and consent of his late client’s son, who was the sole beneficiary of the estate. The solicitor had been a close family friend of the deceased and her son.
He explained that the first payment was transferred to help the client’s grandson extend a 12-month right-to-buy opportunity and represented the whole of the purchase price: this transaction had been specifically authorised by her prior to her death.
The money initially remained in the client account as it was never used for the transaction, before it was returned to the sole beneficiary.
The payments linked to his daughter’s purchase were said to be made at the suggestion of the client’s son.
Parkin said he was under great pressure to complete that day, and accepted he made an ‘injudicious and irrational’ decision to act in the manner he did.
He added that work related pressures and the close relationship he enjoyed with the client and her family had ‘clouded his decision-making process’ during the transactions.
All money removed from the client’s bank account has been returned.
Parkin himself reported the matter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and accepted he ‘temporarily fell’ below the standards expected of a solicitor in practice. He agreed with the SRA to pay a fine of £2,000 and the £5,000 costs of the investigation.