Allen C. Hamley (WSBA No. 1028, admitted 1969), of Bellevue, was disbarred, effective July 9, 2008, by order of the Washington State Supreme Court following approval of a stipulation. This discipline was based on conduct involving conversion of estate funds and submitting false declarations to the court.
Mr. Hamley drafted wills for a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. W, naming himself to serve as executor or personal representative (PR) of both estates. Mr. and Mrs. W jointly owned a note and deed of trust for monies they had loaned. Mrs. W died in September 2000; Mr. Hamley filed a probate petition in King County Superior Court in December 2000 and a declaration of completion to close Mrs. W’s estate in June 2005. Mr. W died in August 2004; Mr. Hamley filed a probate petition in King County Superior Court in October 2004. Mr. W’s will named his stepson and Mr. Hamley as co-PRs. Mr. Hamley also served as attorney for the co-PRs.
In May 2005, Mr. Hamley received payoff proceeds totaling $37,124.05 for the note and deed of trust (the estate funds). Mr. Hamley did not deposit the estate funds to an estate bank account. Instead, he deposited the estate funds to his trust account. In or about August 2005, Mr. Hamley withdrew over $21,000 by cashier’s check from the estate funds in his trust account. He did not tell his co-PR about the withdrawal, and he took the funds without authorization. Mr. Hamley used the money to insulate himself from potential legal liability to another client. Later, he testified that he used the funds to protect himself, because “I didn’t have other funds available.”
On May 8, 2006, Mr. W’s stepdaughter (Ms. A), who was a beneficiary of his estate, filed a petition for removal of the co-PRs. Ms. A sought appointment of a successor PR and an accounting. On May 26, 2006, in response to the petition for removal, Mr. Hamley signed and filed a declaration with the court in which he falsely swore that “all funds” of the estate had been deposited to an estate account. In fact, Mr. Hamley had deposited over $37,000 in estate funds to his trust account. On June 1, 2006, the court ordered Mr. Hamley to resign as co-PR, blocked certain bank accounts, and awarded attorney’s fees against Mr. Hamley and Mr. W’s stepson personally for fees incurred by the heirs in bringing the removal proceedings. On June 19, 2006, by a stipulated order, the court removed Mr. W’s stepson as co-PR and appointed Ms. A as the new PR. Mr. Hamley repaid the $37,000 in estate funds described above and associated attorney fees.
Mr. Hamley’s conduct violated RPC 3.3(a), prohibiting a lawyer from making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal; RPC 4.1, prohibiting a lawyer, in the course of representing a client, from knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; RPC 8.4(c), prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and RPC 8.4(i), prohibiting a lawyer from committing any act involving moral turpitude, corruption, or other act which reflects disregard for the rule of the law, regardless of conviction or acquittal of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Linda B. Eide represented the Bar Association. Joseph J. Ganz represented Mr. Hamley.