Fort Lauderdale attorney publicly reprimanded in mother-in-law's estate dispute

By Karen Kidd | Jul 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Fort Lauderdale attorney Bruce Don Burtoff has been publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter following a May 31 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations stemming from an alleged conflict of interest, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Fort Lauderdale attorney Bruce Don Burtoff has been publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter following a May 31 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations stemming from an alleged conflict of interest, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Burtoff was involved in a conflict of interest," the state bar said in its June 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "After the death of his mother-in-law, Burtoff represented his wife, the personal representative of her mother’s estate, against his father-in-law, his former client."

In its two-page order, the high court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before reprimanding Burtoff and ordered him to pay almost $2,062 in costs. Burtoff also agreed to complete the state bar's ethics school, according to the consent judgment reached between Burtoff and the state bar and filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Burtoff's conditional guilty plea.

In Florida court orders are not final untiltime to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not have altered the effective date of Burtoff's reprimand.

Burtoff was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 23, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Burtoff's state bar profile.

Allegations against Burtoff ultimately stemmed from his agreement in 2004 to draft estate planning documents for his mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law following their relocation to Florida, according to the consent judgment. After the death of Burke's mother-in-law in 2012, a dispute arose regarding a trust in the planned estate and in December of that year he provided counsel to his wife, the personal representative of her mother's estate. Burke filed suit on his wife's behalf against her stepfather, Burke's former client.

Burke ultimately was disqualified as counsel for the estate's personal representative.

Burke was alleged to have taken positions contrary to his former client, his stepfather-in-law, "and continued to represent his wife in the probate matter when he knew or reasonably should have known he had a conflict of interest vis-a-vis his prior representation of [his stepfather-in-law] in 2004," the consent judgment said.

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