We want the professionals serving us to aspire to and act consistent with the highest ethics and standards of their profession. Doctors should "first do no harm," lawyers need to be honest with their clients, themselves, courts and juries, and trustees who manage trust assets must be honest and loyal in their administration.
Prospective clients often ask whether I've ever seen an estate or trust dispute like theirs. Case facts and wrongdoers' actions seem so outrageous that aggrieved family members may think that their case is a "one in a million." Of course, given the geographic and litigation scope of our practice, most cases don't feel like "one in a million."
Now this happens all the time. Uncle Buster tells you that you're going to inherit his house. Now you love Uncle Buster, and you want him to live to a ripe old age. But you know in your heart that when Uncle Buster dies you are going to inherit his house. Uncle Buster let a few other relatives and neighbors know that he was eventually going to give you the house.
Families want enforceable rules to protect elders from elder financial abuse and financial exploitation. For the most part, such rules have not yet caught up with the reality of the frequency of such abuse. FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is taking some significant steps to institute controls to help identify potential financial abuse of senior investors or individuals with diminished mental capacity.
The Steve Pomeranz Show, a weekly radio program focused on smart finances, recently invited me on as a guest to discuss shielding elderly loved ones from financial exploitation and my new book, The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse. Steve Pomeranz was a knowledgeable and gracious host, and he used his expertise as a prominent wealth and investment advisor to spark a discussion on issues of elder financial abuse. Among the topics Steve and I discussed were:
Stevie Wonder, a child prodigy and now an elder Baby Boomer (he was born in 1950) is inspirational in many ways. His songs are full of life. He deserves credit for his creative genius, and he also deserves credit for this observation, "If you don't ask, you don't get."
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America trains healthcare professionals in dementia-specific care, provides free and confidential memory screenings to over 3 million people and provides support, counseling, and education to thousands of people.
On October 18, 2017, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act became law. Among other things the law requires that the United States Department of Justice establish best practices for data collection on elder abuse and collection and publish data on elder abuse cases and investigations. The "sense of the Senate" expresses that: "(1) elder abuse involves exploitation of potentially vulnerable individuals; (2) combatting elder abuse requires support for victims and prevention; and (3) the Senate supports a multipronged approach to prevent elder abuse, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators of elder abuse crimes."
We learn by stories. Given our law firm's position and commitment to LA estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation, we hear lots of stories - stories that many times develop new chapters in Los Angeles County Superior Court. While I can't reveal attorney client communications, I can take literary license to depict issues of estate theft and wrongdoing that we regularly litigate. In this spirit, let's go back to June 2016.