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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2009-07



ROBERT G. MOORE

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board April 28, 2009.

SUMMARY1


The respondent received a public reprimand for preparing a will for a testator that gave his wife and stepdaughters a substantial bequest from a person to whom the respondent, his wife and his stepdaughters were not related.

The respondent and his wife married in 2000. At the time, the respondentís wife had three daughters in their twenties. In 1983, long before the respondent and his wife had met, the respondentís wife met the testator when she rented commercial space from him. At the time, the testator was sixty-three years old and lived above the commercial space rented by the respondentís wife. Beginning in 1983, the respondentís wife, her three daughters, her father, and her brother all became friends with the testator. From 1983 until the testatorís death in 2005, the respondentís wife and her family enjoyed a close personal relationship with the testator and socialized frequently, shared meals together several times a week, and celebrated milestones together as a family.

The respondent met the testator through his wife in approximately 2000 and also became close personal friends with him. The respondent performed some legal work for the testator from 2000 to 2005, but did not charge him for any of the work performed because he considered him to be family.

In late 2003 and early 2004, the testator met with the respondent on several occasions to discuss a new will. Based on these discussions, the respondent drafted a will (the 2004 will) bequeathing, in pertinent part, $100,000 to an aviation club; $250,000 to a library; $50,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society; $20,000 each to the respondentís three stepdaughters; $25,000 to the respondentís wife; and $20,000 to the testatorís nephew. The residue of the estate would be left to the respondentís wife, his three stepdaughters, and the testatorís nephew on a pro rata basis, based on the amount of their cash bequests.

The 2004 will was executed by the testator on April 27, 2004. At no time before or after the testator executed the 2004 will, did the testator ever meet with independent counsel to discuss the 2004 will, despite the respondentís advice that he do so.

Previously, on September 18, 2003, the testator had executed another will (the 2003 will) through other counsel. This will bequeathed, in pertinent part, $25,000 to the testatorís nephew; small bequests to two other individuals; and $25,000 to the Central New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The residue of the estate would be left to a foundation set up by the testator (the Foundation). The Foundation is a charitable trust, the primary purpose of which is to provide scholarships for the education of aviators, including, but not limited to, the scholarship program at the aviation club named in the 2004 will. The 2003 will had made no provision for the respondentís wife or his three stepdaughters.

The testator died on December 16, 2005. On January 17, 2006, the respondent, the named executor of the 2004 will, filed the 2004 will and a petition to probate in the probate court. Also on the same date, the named executor of the 2003 will filed the 2003 will and a petition to probate in the probate court and one of the three stepdaughters filed a disclaimer with the probate court repudiating the bequest to her in the 2004 will.

On February 16, 2006, the named executor of the 2003 will objected to the respondentís petition to probate the 2004 will. On March 22, 2006, a special administrator was appointed by the court, and the respondent resigned as fiduciary. The respondent filed an inventory on June 22, 2006, valuing the personal estate at $328,190.81 and the real estate at $800,000.

In December 2007, all of the involved parties reached agreement concerning the terms of a compromise will, which was accepted by the court. The compromise will, in pertinent part, bequeathed $100,000 to the aviation club; $225,000 to the library; $50,000 to the Central New England Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society; $20,000 to the testatorís nephew; $28,334 each to two of the respondentís stepdaughters; half of $28,334 to each of the two children of the third stepdaughter; and $25,000 to the Foundation. The residue of the estate would be divided and distributed as follows: 50 % to the Foundation; 19.05 % to the testatorís nephew; and one third of the remaining balance each to two of the stepdaughters and half of one third of the remaining balance to each of the two children of the third stepdaughter. The compromise will made no provision for the respondentís wife.

The respondentís preparing an instrument under which the respondentís wife and stepdaughters received a substantial bequest from a person to whom the respondent, his wife, and his stepdaughters were not related was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.8(c).

The respondent was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth in 1979. This matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on the partiesí stipulation of facts and rule violations and an agreed recommendation for discipline by public reprimand. On April 13, 2009, the Board voted to accept the stipulation and impose the recommended discipline.


1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record of proceedings before the Board.



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