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?"
Is there ever a time when the spirit of the law "will assert itself ... where right and justice would be defeated but for its intervention." Fortunately, yes. An October 2018 California Fourth District Court of Appeal gives us a near perfect example.
A recent news story on a Bay Area trust dispute caught my attention - not necessarily over the legal details, but because of the general elements common to many cases of estate litigation. It has features we encounter all too frequently in our advocacy for beneficiaries: a successful family business, an ailing patriarch, his children from a prior marriage, and a stepmother. These are the ingredients for potential conflict.