Bucks County litigants claim law firm mishandled million-dollar estate, committed malpractice

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 11, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A Bucks County couple claim the estate distribution process of the husband's deceased brother was performed incorrectly by the attorney they retained, leading to a number of financial losses.

Carl Miller and Michelle Miller of Pipersville first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 6, versus Lundy Law and Herbert K. Ocks, Esq., all of Philadelphia.

On July 13, 2016, Mark Miller, brother of plaintiff Carl Miller, passed away, leaving an estate with a value of approximately $1 million. He died with no spouse, children or living parents. Shortly after his death, the plaintiffs retained defendant Ocks to probate the asset, distribute assets, file inheritance tax forms and provide competent counseling.

“As counsel for plaintiffs, defendant Ocks, as agent and employee of defendant ‘Lundy’ probated the estate, had plaintiff Carl Miller appointed administrator and counseled plaintiffs that Carl was the sole heir to the estate,” the suit says.

However, this information allegedly proved erroneous – as Mark’s deceased brother, Earl Miller, has a living son named Earl Miller Jr. who was a beneficiary of the estate. Additionally, a second deceased brother, David Miller, has three living children, Mara, Mick and George, all of whom were also beneficiaries, the suit says.

“Several months after decedent’s death, defendant Ocks discovered that he gave plaintiffs incorrect information regarding distributing estate assets pursuant to intestate succession, and in fact, there were five beneficiaries, not just plaintiff Carl Miller,” the suit states.

“Accordingly, the distribution of assets prior to uncovering defendant Ocks’s error, was done incorrectly and the beneficiaries did not receive the shares of the estate they were entitled to. At all times relevant hereto, plaintiffs acted reasonably and prudently, were free of negligence, were compliant clients and followed all of defendants’ instructions. As a result of the negligence and breach of contract by defendants, new counsel is not able to close the estate and distribute assets.”

Subsequently, the plaintiffs say they incurred much financial damage, including: The non-filing of an inheritance tax return, rental properties, vintage cars and collective guns and rifles not being able to be listed for sale due to conflicts among the beneficiaries, lost interest and rental income due to not being able to sell bank assets and funds, in addition to damages not yet ascertainable.

On Sept. 7, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge John J. Younge issued a notice that announced that a case management conference had been rescheduled to Oct. 11, and “no further continuances will be granted absent exigent circumstances.”

“Counsel for plaintiff is directed to serve a copy of this notice on any unrepresented party and any attorney entering an appearance subsequent to the issuance of this notice. Counsel must be prepared to address all relevant issues,” Younge said.

For counts of breach of contract and negligence, the plaintiffs are seeking damages, jointly and/or severally, in excess of $50,000.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mark S. Kardos of Kardos & Goch, in Philadelphia.

The defendants do not have registered legal counsel, according to Court records.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180600810

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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Law Offices of Kardos & Goch Lundy Law LLP Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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