Austin lawyer gives up license

Tony Plohetski (tplohetski@statesman.com; 512-445-3605)
May 5, 2007
Austin American-Statesman (TX)

An Austin lawyer accused of stealing from and mishandling estates of three elderly women over several years has surrendered his law license, officials with the State Bar of Texas said Friday. Terry Erwin Stork, 68, was the subject of a December article in the American-Statesman about estate thefts and how Texas probate laws do little to ensure that people’s belongings reach their family members or friends after they die.

According to the bar association, Stork in one case failed to properly disburse assets to people named in a will and commingled assets with his own money. He also failed to account for how he distributed the money and property, despite a court order.

In another case, the bar association said, Stork withdrew money from an estate and deposited it in his own bank account.

“The funds were then spent or otherwise exhausted by Stork and not utilized for the benefit of the estate,” the association said.

Stork and his family also lived in the home of a deceased client from 1987 to 2002 and deposited money from the sale into his own bank account, the bar said.

Stork has been charged in Travis County with misapplication of fiduciary property.

He also is being investigated in a third case in Bexar County.

Also Friday, the State Bar announced that Round Rock lawyer Mike Zimmern was suspended from practicing law for five years beginning Feb. 15. Zimmern, 57, neglected a family law matter and failed to keep his client informed, said the bar, which ordered him to pay $2,000 in restitution and $1,750 in legal costs.

It was the fourth time the bar has disciplined Zimmern since 1998.

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