Last week the influential wealth-management magazine ThinkAdvisor called me for an interview on a complex but important topic: why blended families are prone to estate and trust litigation, and why stepmothers often occupy a central role in these conflicts. This is a subject I've covered at length in my book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse.
Recently I spoke with reporter Anya Kamenetz of the Chicago Tribune. She had contacted me for my thoughts on the rising challenge of elder financial abuse in America, and how we can spot the warning signs, something I've written about in-depth in my book The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. Anya begins her article with a story from a reader. It describes a textbook potential case of undue influence: an elderly divorced man has a new younger girlfriend with designs on his estate assets originally intended for his children. Unfortunately these stories are increasingly common, which means family members need to be alert for signs of exploitation.
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.
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.
Michael Hackard was a recent guest on Keep It Juicy!, journalist Helen Mitternight's podcast about leading a healthy, vibrant lifestyle in your 50's and beyond. Helen is a well-known writer and blogger out of Charleston, South Carolina, and she's dedicated to spreading knowledge on topics that are important to today's Baby Boomers. One of the critical issues today's seniors face is elder financial abuse.