"Just one more thing..."
If you have an elderly loved one with Alzheimer's, you'll know how important it is to look after their safety. It's easy to worry. Maybe your parent or grandparent has left the stove on while cooking, unintentionally causing a fire hazard. Maybe they've wandered off in the neighborhood, only to be found and returned hours later by a good Samaritan. In the same way, a senior suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or Lewy body dementia is especially vulnerable to elder financial abuse.
Trust beneficiary mediations are emotional. Alzheimer's, dementia, stepmothers, split families, undue influence and missing estate assets are threads that often run through the fabric of mediated estate and trust disputes. Passions run high. Feelings of betrayal mixed with grief are common to trust challengers and a protective belief of entitlement is common to the challenged.
"Honor thy father and thy mother." This commandment, deeply embedded in our Judeo-Christian heritage, is a fabric of our daily lives. A fabric that draws little reflection, that is until an event or circumstance occurs and unnerves us.
This is the biggest mediation year in our law firm's history. The milestone is significant for our clients, their adversaries and all lawyers involved in the prosecution and defense of estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia.
This is a busy year for estate and trust mediation - the alternative dispute process in which the parties to a lawsuit meet with a neutral third-party, often a retired judge, in an effort to settle the case. Our litigation practice includes California's largest urban areas and so, not coincidentally, does our presence at mediations. While mediations can be dramatically different there are some constants - including strong emotions.
I listen to hundreds of stories every year. There are dozens of cases for every element of vulnerability. The stories surrounding each element often provide a foundation for the failure of an estate plan that someone tried to make bulletproof.
California estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation involves fights - it's that simple. These cases are contested - the lawsuits are emotional and hard fought. Wrongdoers don't give up ill-gotten gains easily. I know this because the vast majority of our law practice involves the representation of aggrieved heirs, beneficiaries and victims of elder financial abuse. We're currently litigating in more than twenty California counties.