A prominent Staten Island attorney has been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from five clients, according to the Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who took over the case as a special prosecutor at the request of District Attorney Daniel Donovan’s office.

Can you trust your attorney?

When an attorney is hired to shepherd an estate through probate, it is expected that the attorney will act in the best interests of the estate. Right? Clearly, the attorney should attend to any matters in a professional manner and make sure that the proceeds of the estate are distributed appropriately.

After all, this is the basic foundation of trust clients place in their attorneys.

Against this backdrop we find the unfortunate case of attorney Robert DePalma of Staten Island. It seems attorney DePalma has been charged with embezzling funds from estates he was hired to oversee to the tune of approximately $700,000.

SIlivehas the full story in an article titled Staten Island attorney accused of embezzling $700,000 from his clients.”

This is quite obviously a very serious matter.

If convicted DePalma could (and should) see time in prison.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of estate attorneys are honest and do not steal from their clients. Make sure you check out the reputation and integrity of any attorney before engaging his or her estate planning services.

Two independent attorney rating services are available online at www.avvo.com and www.lawyers.com.

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