Corrupt Fiduciary Frumeh Labow
Frumeh Labow buzzes through the double doors of Los Angeles County’s main Probate Court, a queen bee in her hive.
She has several items to settle. She asks a judge for permission to sell the Beverly Hills home of a 66-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, though he wants to keep it.
She asks the judge to order the release of financial records by the girlfriend of another aged client.
She asks the court to approve $25,140 in fees, to be paid from the bank account of a third elderly ward.
“The judge gives her everything she wants.”
“I’m happy,” she says, making her way back through the double doors. “I got paid today.”
Frumeh Labow, 58, is among the most successful professional conservators in Southern California. She filed 158 cases between 1997 and 2003, 50% more than her closest competitor. Her firm, Complete Probate Administration Inc., controls $60 million of other people’s money.
After her court hearing,Frumeh Labow hops into her baby-blue Jaguar and heads for the house of a new client, an octogenarian with dementia and a million-dollar estate.
Born in Chicago and named Frumeh Labow to incorporate the Yiddish word for “pious,” Frumeh Labow grew up in L.A.’s Cheviot Hills and went to UC Berkeley. She spent 13 years at the county agency that handles conservatorships for the incapacitated and the mentally ill, then followed a conga line of colleagues into the private sector.
In Complete Probate, Frumeh Labow has built what one attorney called a “Private Fiduciary Estate Factory.”
She employs three full-time case managers. She has a controller, a paralegal and clerks who do everything from reconciling clients’ bank statements to planning their funerals.
She herself spends much of her time in court — or, as she puts it, “schmoozing attorneys.”
Labow seldom takes on clients with less than $300,000 in liquid assets and acknowledges that Complete Probate does not operate on the cheap.
In 2002, Labow was appointed the conservator for 83-year-old Sophie Shamban, whose children and grandchildren were fighting over her multimillion-dollar estate. Labow hired a $500-an-hour litigator to represent her in the dispute.
“I could afford it,” she said, meaning that Shamban could.
Labow usually charges $105 an hour for her time, $95 an hour for her case managers and $65 an hour for administrative tasks such as bill paying.
Noting that paralegals make more than she does per hour, she often submits her fee requests attached to a five-page treatise titled “How Much Should a Conservator Be Paid.”
“There is no incentive for me to stay in business and continue to provide services if I do not make a profit,” it states. “I take on incredible liability and responsibility and I believe that I should be paid accordingly.” STORY
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Samuel Ingham III
Trust and Conservatorship Attorney
Los Angeles, California
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131 S. Rodeo Dr. Suite 100
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Ruling Over Someone’ Has Paid Off Handsomely