► Attorney Bruce Howe of Dickinson, ND; ethical gnome Print E-mail
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Attorney Bruce Howe of Dickinson, ND; ethical gnome

 
The state of North Dakota presented Bruce R. Howe with a law license in 1958 after he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law College.
 
The Disciplinary Board charged Alan with the following misconduct.
 
Bruce represented the Schreiber family for many years. Over the years, Bruce drafted wills and trust for family members and advised them on general legal matter. He developed a very close relationship with the family.
 
George Schreiber never married and lived with his sister Loretta, and other brothers on a family farm near Richardton, North Dakota, all of his life. At the time of his death, George had four living heirs, his sister Loretta, and three nieces. George and Loretta had sizeable estates consisting of farmlands, investments, and cash in the bank. At the time of his death, George’s estate was reported to be in excess of $2 million.
 
Bruce prepared the will for George that called for $200,000 to given to each niece and the balance to go to various named charities. George let Bruce know in no uncertain terms that he wanted to avoid paying any taxes on his estate after his death, and he didn’t want any of his assets to go to his wealthy sister Loretta.
 
An informal probate proceeding started after George’s death, and Bruce was the attorney for the estate. In order to prepare the federal estate tax return, all of George’s assets had to be located. Bruce then learned of several annuities in George’s name, which were worth $523,000, $437,000, $80,000, $5,100, and $1,000 respectively. While there were other annuity policies as well, it was these listed policies which formed the crux of the controversy which eventually arose in this case.
 
Bruce learned that each of the five annuities aforementioned named Loretta and the three nieces as the beneficiaries. Allowing Loretta and the nieces to obtain these funds would have been contrary to George’s stated wishes to Bruce. Therefore, Bruce prepared a disclaimer that he had Loretta and the nieces sign wherein they would disclaim all interest in the annuities.
 
Within a few days of signing the disclaimers, the nieces met with Attorney Gordon Schnell. Schnell then met with Bruce at his office. The meeting quickly turned sour. Schnell then asked Bruce to not submit the disclaimers signed by the nieces, and Bruce agreed to hold them.
 
Eventually, the nieces received the $200,000 they were entitled too pursuant to George’s will.
 
As a consequence of his misconduct, the enablers for Attorney Misfits sitting on the North Dakota Supreme Court punished Alan by gifting him with a complimentary 30-day suspension of his law license. 
 
As we speak (ca. March 2013), Bruce practices at 150 West Villard in Dickinson, North Dakota.
 
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