California heirs and beneficiaries expect that trustees, estate representatives and executors will act as good and prudent fiduciaries. When these fiduciaries fail and take money belonging to trust beneficiaries, they may be subject to civil and even criminal penalties. There are several cases in point.
It's easy to believe at the beginning, middle or even long into a journey that we are "chasing the wind" - engaged in a futile task with nothing gained. This feeling easily accompanies an effort to reach out to people with video presentations. J.P. Mark, a noted research analyst and author of several books, captures this attitudinal predilection in his recently published article Making Magic: Why Lawyers (And Other Professionals) Don't Post More YouTube Videos. Mr. Mark notes:
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Over a year has gone by since my book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse was published, and I'm happy to report that it's still making an impact in the fight against elder exploitation. Last week Portsmouth, New Hampshire's Sea Coast Online writer Elizabeth Dinan reported on a local case of undue influence featured in The Wolf at the Door and interviewed the man who stood up to stop it.
Estate planning is for the most part about earmarking a part of your estate for heirs, charities or others that you wish to honor with an estate gift. Baby boomers - my generation - are now spending more time thinking about and doing estate planning - if only to avoid potential litigation down the road.
Let me start with this - I am not a psychologist. I am a lawyer - a lawyer who at this stage of my career is heavily focused on estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation. So much so that I wrote a book focusing on estate and trust wrongdoing - The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse.
Walt Disney is one of the most celebrated and successful entrepreneurs of the 20th Century and a man whose vision continues to delight families around the world through his Disney theme parks and movies. Disney himself was a scrappy and colorful animator, film producer, voice actor, and corporate leader who may have become more celebrated and appreciated since his death in 1966 than he was while he was alive.
We just held the midterm elections nationwide this month, and they got me thinking about elder financial abuse laws and the baby boomer generation.
It's natural - even good - that we should desire peace and avoid conflict. This desire might pale in the face of injustice. Families strained by the financial exploitation of a parent by a sibling or other close relative find themselves conflicted over calling out wrongdoing or trying to keep the appearance of harmony. That said, there are times in our lives when common decency and respect for the dignity of others will call us action - to painful confrontation. We pay a price for this.
Elder financial abuse is a threat to seniors across California - and not only to seniors themselves, but also to their families and communities. When a wrongdoer steals money or hijacks estate and trust assets from an elderly victim, the heartbreak can be tremendous. Victims and their loved ones ask themselves, "What can we do to fight back?"