Trusts are an extremely common way for people to transfer assets to others at the ends of their lives, and it is easy to understand why. When a person uses a will to dispose of assets, the estate must go through a process known as probate, which can prove long and complicated, and cost the estate a significant amount of money in fees. On the other hand, using a trust to transfer assets to beneficiaries avoids probate, as the transfer takes place immediately on the occurrence of some specified event.
It's heartwarming that several of America's major online financial media networks have quoted from my book, The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. The latest story comes from TheStreet.com, one of our country's leading online financial websites. Brian O'Connell, a business/finance writer, who regularly covers business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health, internet and technology sectors, wrote an interesting article, "My Stepmother Stole My Inheritance."
I was pleased yesterday to join Drew Mariani of Relevant Radio, part of America's largest Catholic radio network, for a discussion on my book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. We covered the basic points of how to safeguard elderly family members from exploitation, a challenge that will only grow in the years ahead as more and more Baby Boomers become senior citizens. That paves the way for the greatest generational transfer of wealth - an estimated $30 trillion - we've ever seen.
It's fun for me to reflect upon some of the funny things and experiences that I've encountered over the years. My memory of some real-world events only permits to share the essence of the experiences. I've changed identifying details to protect both privacy and attorney client confidences. Given the changes, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
I was recently welcomed back as a guest on The Steve Pomeranz Show, hosted by nationally recognized investment advisor Steve Pomeranz. Steve has made his program a fantastic resource for wealth planning, financial literacy, and smart allocation of assets in a volatile economy. It's therefore an honor to return to Steve's show and discuss a serious danger to seniors: elder financial abuse and undue influence.
It's a privilege to have a chapter from my book, The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse, featured in The Wall Street Journal's financial newswire MarketWatch. The chapter concerns a phenomenon I've encountered frequently in estate and trust lawsuits: conflicts between stepmothers and the natural children of a decedent over property and assets. The chances of a dispute rise dramatically when a stepmother's vision for the future of a family trust is at odds with what her husband originally intended for his children from his previous marriage.
Californians have increasing concern over the frequency of elder financial abuse. The concerns are reasonable and prudent. California's 65 and over population is 14% of the state's overall population - that's over 5 million people.