Joseph Lester Boles, an attorney and former St. Augustine mayor, has been suspended by the Florida Supreme Court after he admitted to misconduct and conflict of interest after a Florida Bar investigation.
The 90-day suspension came after two complaints from clients, according to a conditional plea.
In one case, a judicial referee determined that Boles made himself the trustee of a trust the client had not even requested, which violated Florida Bar rules regarding conflicts of interest.
Boles’ law firm specializes in estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, asset protection and Medicaid eligibility, according to court documents. He also is listed as president of the St. Johns County Council on Aging and served as St. Augustine’s mayor from 2006 to 2014.
The initial complaint, filed by the Florida Bar, states that Boles met with one woman to help her form a trust for her assets in January 2020, since she was ill with cancer. Boles suggested that he would be the successor trustee but was told to designate someone else, the complaint said. Ultimately, Boles “unilaterally appointed himself and his law partner (who is also respondent’s stepson) as backup successor trustees,” the complaint states.
The second case arose after another woman asked Boles to prepare her will in 2015, then requested that he modify it in 2021, the complaint said. Upon reviewing the updated will, this client saw that he had “made himself the trustee of a trust for which she had not even requested, and that his law partner was named as the backup successor trustee,” the complaint said.
That client ultimately went to another attorney to get the trust revoked and drafted new estate planning documents.
Several mitigating factors were listed in the Supreme Court case, including Boles having no prior discipline history in 38 years as a Florida Bar member, his positive reputation in the community and his showing of remorse.