Missing Money A former Santa Barbara attorney who advertised “Don’t Let Others Steal Your Elderly Parent’s Estate” has been disbarred after $367,409 was missing from her client’s estate.
The California Bar said it acted after lawyer Sandra Jean Smith, 51, was unable to come up with the money and then bounced a repayment check.
Smith, whose last known address was in Jacksonville, Arkansas, was hired by court administrator Latasha Jones to help handle a San Bernardino County estate probate matter after Jones noticed Smith’s yellow page ad, the Bar said.
It’s not known what happened to the money or whether criminal charges will be filed.
A year after Jones opened an estate account to handle the funds, Smith falsely told her that the probate court wanted the assets transferred to Smith’s client trust account, the Bar statement said. Three months after the 2009 transfer, Smith’s account was $40.54.
After Jones filed suit, Smith agreed to repay the money at the rate of $10,000 a month, but the first check bounced and the second could not be cashed, the Bar said.
After the Bar placed her on inactive status and charged her with acts of moral turpitude, Smith recently agreed to the disbarment.