More revelations continue to pour forth from the Geraldine Webber elder abuse investigation/probate case in Portsmouth, NH. Webber, who died in December of 2012 at age 94, left behind a $2.7 million estate to Portsmouth Police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin, who "befriended" the elderly woman two years prior during a routine patrol of her neighborhood. The trouble is, Webber had already been diagnosed with dementia by their time of her acquaintance with Goodwin. Yet Goodwin proceeded to visit her intensively, even taking her on casino outings, as well "shopping around" through several lawyers to change her will and trust with himself as the new beneficiary in May 2012. Seven months later Webber passed away, and Goodwin inherited her fortune.
As a 42-year veteran officer of New Hampshire's Portsmouth police department, John Connors is serious about his duty to protect the community, and that includes from elder abuse. When his wealthy elderly neighbor Geraldine Webber, already in her nineties, began receiving frequent visits from fellow officer Aaron Goodwin in 2010, Connors sensed something was amiss. His cause for concern was genuine; two weeks after she met Goodwin, Webber told Connors that the younger police officer had fallen in love, would soon leave his wife and children to move in with her, and that she would 'give him everything.'
What happens when a party in an estate dispute attempts to transfer assets from a trust they once established for family members? That's the current dilemma of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, whose $1.9 billion business empire is up for grabs after he froze his daughter, Renee Benson, as well as his grandchildren out of ownership of major enterprises after his death.
In many elder abuse cases, the intended beneficiaries of an estate (whether children, spouse, etc.) are shocked to learn that they are to receive nothing from their loved one after they've passed on. The reason? At a certain point before their death, the ailing decedent was unduly influenced by another party to change their will or trust, thereby transferring assets - sometimes a financial necessity - away from the original intended inheritors.
A recent case out of Orange County poses some tough questions on the limits of charity donor solicitation, especially when it concerns the elderly. 98-year-old former developer and philanthropist James Emmi and his 84-year-old wife Catherine are suing Chapman University for breach of contract, fraud, deceit, and elder abuse in a suit filed this week. They allege that over a period of years Chapman President James Doti "preyed" on Emmi to snag millions for the construction of new school facilities.