When a household name speaks out on an issue of public interest, people tend to listen a little more attentively. Maybe a celebrity or famous athlete shares their fight against a serious disease, a struggle with mental illness or depression, or blows the whistle on crimes like sexual assault. So if a big name engages the media to raise awareness on elder financial abuse, I consider it a win for victims and their families.
Imagine taking a call one morning from your recently widowed mother to learn of her professed love for a Florida man whom she has never met in person.
California estate and trust litigation is expensive. A common question from non-clients of law firms like Hackard Law that accept contingency cases is, "How much are you [the attorney] making in this case?" It's a good question and the response must be measured in both protecting the client's attorney-client privilege as well as providing a meaningful response if appropriate within the context of the question.
Deathbed transfers of estate or trust assets can look suspicious, and there's good reasons why. The timing is off, to put it lightly, and the ailing maker of an estate or trust can be subject to undue influence. The tragic story of a professional football player's terminal illness and deathbed transfer shares key features I've seen in other litigation battles over a decedent's inheritance.
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:
Image Credit: Richard Wheeler
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.