Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, June 30, 2008

Evil probate lawyer faces life in prison


Terry Erwin Stork, an Austin, Texas lawyer, has recently pled guilty to felony theft for conduct relating to various estates.

Here is some of the conduct in which Stork is accused of engaging:

    • Mismanaged or stole property worth over $800,000.
    • Engaged in the evil conduct for over 20 years.
    • Lived in the home of a deceased client for 15 years.
    • When he sold the home, he deposited the proceeds in his personal account.
    • Drove a deceased client’s car.
    • Used a deceased client’s money to purchase china for his collection.
    • Failed to deliver property to beneficiaries.

Stork had previously resigned from the practice of law.

See Tony Plohetski, Longtime attorney pleads guilty to estate thefts, American-Statesman, June 28, 2008.

See also Tony Plohetski, Fighting the touchy battle of estate theft, American-Statesman, June 27, 2008. (Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.)


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The predatory practice of asset stripping through the creation and maintenance of trusts is likely not new to the wide world of law. It's been going on for centuries - and is, in fact, probably the reason that attorneys flock toward such an industry where they are able to control, possess, or borrow, not to mention sell client assets. Why would it not be lucrative?

Self regulation is of little consequence when money lying on the table is there, and no one is looking.
The fact that it may belong to a client matters little, except the getting caught.

The transition to beneficiaries is the perfect time for stealing because they never knew what was there in the first place, and have only a secondary claim to what the attorney permitted them to have in the trust he created. Being appointed attorney for the estate is merely guarding the interests that the attorney carved out for himself.

While improper, it is done by custom and tradition all over the nation, and indeed, who wants to get paid for a contract created for someone else unless they can deal themselves in for the potential value of the savings that someone else earned?

Systems should be created so that it is not possible for attorneys to steal from clients, while they are alive, or when they are dead. And agreements that consent to the robbing of one's children ought to be illegal by public policy. If they aren't, legislation is the creation of law to prohibit it. Laws that exist but aren't enforced are a special issue altogether.

The ABA should have the decency to stop allowing the loopholes for their own members the opportunity to steal - and invest themselves in law, or go be stock brokers where the money began, not where it ended.

When brokers are scamming, and attorneys are stealing, the poor souls caught in the middle are the ones who need protection. That is common sense.

Failure to provide it shows the world to be a very unjust and untrustworthy place. It should be a per se
violation for attorneys, their partners and their friends to govern documents they created, as if they had the right to create their own bank with client funds.

Posted by: Pat | Jul 16, 2008 5:08:11 AM

I was so disgusted with the way a lawyer/executor handled my late mother`s estate that I have written a book called Lawyers or Grave Robbers?. See www.lawyersorgraverobbers.com This book reveals the inadequacy within our legal systems to protect families and explains why the self interested profession refuses to move to the 21st century by implimenting standards and quality control systems for lawyers who act as executors of deceased estates. I hope this book helps many of the families who are being ripped apart by these self serving sociopaths.

Diarmuid Hannigan

Posted by: Diarmuid Hannigan | Nov 14, 2008 7:02:43 PM

Omg. I'm going threw this now

Posted by: Dione A Childress | Jun 4, 2021 4:14:40 AM

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