Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

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LilyFleur
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by LilyFleur »

prairieman wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:30 pm OMG! No advice, but if misery loves company, it happened to my former neighbor. According to him, a young female caregiver became the only heir of his partly senile father’s estate. I think they decided the cost to contest was greater than the estate was worth, but I never brought it up again. My neighbor claimed the thing that made him the maddest was that his father had abandoned the kids when they were growing up, but reconnected later and then, finally, he abandoned the kids again permanently at death by leaving them out of his will. None of them cared much about the money, but they always suspected the caregiver was a gold digger.
It's a good reminder to me to give my children gifts that will help them, while I am still alive.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by LilyFleur »

GetSmarter wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 pm
sandramjet wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:27 pm
GetSmarter wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:16 pm I meant to ask you, does your sibling give you an accounting? I made the request almost two months ago, and still haven't received any bank statements.
They have given me an "accounting" supposedly every year -- but it has always been of questionable value and questionable accuracy. I had challenged the veracity of it several times informally in past years. I started with a letter from my lawyer asking for a full accounting including all accounts (which had never been given). That didn't work; had to go to court to subpoena records -- that still has not worked. I got some of the information (bank account records from the accounts that I did not have) but no record of expenses ... the statements show many cash outflows, etc. with no accounting as to source or destination. I am still waiting for that information but suspect I will have to go back to court to get that. We have delayed mediation once already because of lack of compliance with subpoenas, etc. My initial request for those records was made in October of last year, and as I noted, still have not gotten all of it.

It is frustrating that all this takes so long, but I have been told by my lawyer this is not unusual...these matters seem to often take a long time.
Have you ever thought of giving up and moving on with your life? You mentioned you didn't think mediation would net you much. These are things I at times wonder for myself. It's a lot of money. Yet the quality of my life, the years left of my life are precious. And fighting, and angst, and reminiscing on the betrayal of a man with poor character, feels bad. Unless I thought I have an excellent chance of getting all the money, I don't know if I'd let it drag into a year or more. Life is precious. Of course, we're all in different situations. I am learning from others here and appreciate you sharing your experience. I find it very helpful. Like I was frustrated I haven't gotten an accounting of my dad's money that his stepson is spending. This is all so very backwards. So then I was frustrated with my attorney that he isn't doing more. But reading your post, I see what I'm going through may be "normal". The fact my dad died is different. For one thing, I have a deadline to file a lawsuit, which is coming up so I need to reconvene with my lawyer soon. See what's what. If I choose to sue trustee and we went to court, if found guilty he could go to jail. It's not my intention but could be his consequence. Rather all I want is to get what my dad intended before the thief intervened. And do so quickly, without more headaches and legal fees. My understanding is my best bet, while imperfect, is mediation. I hope the other party agrees otherwise I probably will sue him.
Toward the end of one of my parents' lives, the 24/7 nursing home care was not sufficient, and we were told we had to hire 24/7 caregivers to be bedside to make sure my parent did not exit the bed and break their injured limb again. (Dementia makes people forget about their injuries.) Our corporate trustee informed us that we could not continue at this high level of expense indefinitely. Thankfully we did not run out of money. We were dedicated to providing the highest level of care to our parents who had worked and saved all of their lives.

I think your timeline is interesting... the trustee takes $500,000 out for himself, the care institution says that additional care is needed so the trustee realized the remaining money would be insufficient, and your father wanders out and falls and dies, and the trustee informs you very little money is left after paying your father's debts. My parent's assisted living facility had a key code for the exit doors, and they could not figure out how to do it. (It worked as it should have, preventing those with dementia from exiting the facility.) It is interesting to me that the timing of your father's death coincided with running out of money (after the trustee's theft). It could be coincidental, and it could not be. You may never know.

The legal issues seem complex--was the care institution complicit in your father's death? How did a man prone to wander get out of the facility? Were you able to visit your father and verify that the institution was taking good care of him? What was your take on your father's mental condition? Had he been diagnosed with cognitive decline related to the Parkinsons?

So, you were the sole beneficiary, and the trustee was not a beneficiary?

This seems like a complicated situation, and of course it is further complicated by your own grief. Hang in there... a lawsuit might bring justice, but at what cost--emotional and financial--to you is something you must consider. Remember, your friends and family are hearing your own account. A judge looks at admissible evidence.
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by bsteiner »

legio XX wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:55 pm Condolences on the loss of your father, and sympathy for what you are now dealing with. The situation is rotten. Been there, done that with my mother's SS (surviving spouse). His shenanigans included:
- a couple of forged signatures, one on the day she died ...
We once contested a Will on the ground of forgery and settled with the majority of the estate going to our clients.

We had another estate where, after the decedent died but before the bank was notified that he had died, there were two faxes to the bank, purportedly signed by the decedent but obviously not signed by the decedent since he was no longer alive, directing the bank to transfer about €200,000 to the suspected thief's offshore account. We obtained a judgment against the suspected thief but don't know whether we'll be able to collect it. The estate tax was the subject of a Tax Court proceeding where one of the issues was the deductibility of the theft loss. The IRS argued that we might recover on the judgment. The Tax Court case was settled.

We had another estate where the agent under a power of attorney that didn't authorize gifts, transferred a substantial amount to a trust that was first for the decedent, then for two relatives of the decedent who weren't beneficiaries under his WIll, and then following all of their deaths the balance to the agent's daughter. We contested the transfer and settled the case.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by LilyFleur »

legio XX wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:55 pm Condolences on the loss of your father, and sympathy for what you are now dealing with. The situation is rotten. Been there, done that with my mother's SS (surviving spouse). His shenanigans included:
- a couple of forged signatures, one on the day she died
- not telling me when she went to hospice. I called in the police when I kept getting the answering machine because I was afraid he had keeled over in the kitchen and left her unable to call for help.
- Her broker alerted me that he was trying to sell stocks from an account that she and I held jointly. He could write checks tho and was trying to cash one that would nearly clean it out; the broker refused the transaction and alerted me. One of the last things mom said to me was that "SS is trying to take your money." Her brain worked to the end; my big mistake was not realizing how close the end was.
- His parting shot was giving the funeral home inaccurate info to make it look like he was her only husband - my late stepdad somehow became my grandfather (!) I tried to correct it, but he changed it back. Now that is a sleazoid.

Got a lawyer. Got copies of things. Hired a handwriting expert to testify that some signatures were not hers. A witness to a will that she had supposedly recently made admitted that they hadn't seen her sign it. The fake will also contained stupid mistakes that she would never have made - unless she did it deliberately to give me something to contest, that would have been her style.
His lawyer, maybe it was SS's bright idea, tried to scare me off with a Jarndyce v Jarndyce scenario - I told them I would gladly keep him in court until the day he died.
To get to the bottom line:
- he did not get the accounts he tried to grab
- he returned what he took from the checking account
- he got what she had intended for him

I asked about filing a criminal complaint for the forgery, but the lawyer said that the local authorities wouldn't pursue it due to his age and supposedly poor health, the relatively modest amounts and the fact that I recovered what he grabbed. I deposited the check and forgot about the old jerk.

Was it worth it? Yeh, I sleep a lot better than I would have if I'd just folded.
oh my goodness.
You are underscoring my intent to never remarry.
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GetSmarter
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

LilyFleur wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:39 pm
GetSmarter wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 pm
sandramjet wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:27 pm
GetSmarter wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:16 pm I meant to ask you, does your sibling give you an accounting? I made the request almost two months ago, and still haven't received any bank statements.
They have given me an "accounting" supposedly every year -- but it has always been of questionable value and questionable accuracy. I had challenged the veracity of it several times informally in past years. I started with a letter from my lawyer asking for a full accounting including all accounts (which had never been given). That didn't work; had to go to court to subpoena records -- that still has not worked. I got some of the information (bank account records from the accounts that I did not have) but no record of expenses ... the statements show many cash outflows, etc. with no accounting as to source or destination. I am still waiting for that information but suspect I will have to go back to court to get that. We have delayed mediation once already because of lack of compliance with subpoenas, etc. My initial request for those records was made in October of last year, and as I noted, still have not gotten all of it.

It is frustrating that all this takes so long, but I have been told by my lawyer this is not unusual...these matters seem to often take a long time.
Have you ever thought of giving up and moving on with your life? You mentioned you didn't think mediation would net you much. These are things I at times wonder for myself. It's a lot of money. Yet the quality of my life, the years left of my life are precious. And fighting, and angst, and reminiscing on the betrayal of a man with poor character, feels bad. Unless I thought I have an excellent chance of getting all the money, I don't know if I'd let it drag into a year or more. Life is precious. Of course, we're all in different situations. I am learning from others here and appreciate you sharing your experience. I find it very helpful. Like I was frustrated I haven't gotten an accounting of my dad's money that his stepson is spending. This is all so very backwards. So then I was frustrated with my attorney that he isn't doing more. But reading your post, I see what I'm going through may be "normal". The fact my dad died is different. For one thing, I have a deadline to file a lawsuit, which is coming up so I need to reconvene with my lawyer soon. See what's what. If I choose to sue trustee and we went to court, if found guilty he could go to jail. It's not my intention but could be his consequence. Rather all I want is to get what my dad intended before the thief intervened. And do so quickly, without more headaches and legal fees. My understanding is my best bet, while imperfect, is mediation. I hope the other party agrees otherwise I probably will sue him.
Toward the end of one of my parents' lives, the 24/7 nursing home care was not sufficient, and we were told we had to hire 24/7 caregivers to be bedside to make sure my parent did not exit the bed and break their injured limb again. (Dementia makes people forget about their injuries.) Our corporate trustee informed us that we could not continue at this high level of expense indefinitely. Thankfully we did not run out of money. We were dedicated to providing the highest level of care to our parents who had worked and saved all of their lives.

I think your timeline is interesting... the trustee takes $500,000 out for himself, the care institution says that additional care is needed so the trustee realized the remaining money would be insufficient, and your father wanders out and falls and dies, and the trustee informs you very little money is left after paying your father's debts. My parent's assisted living facility had a key code for the exit doors, and they could not figure out how to do it. (It worked as it should have, preventing those with dementia from exiting the facility.) It is interesting to me that the timing of your father's death coincided with running out of money (after the trustee's theft). It could be coincidental, and it could not be. You may never know.

The legal issues seem complex--was the care institution complicit in your father's death? How did a man prone to wander get out of the facility? Were you able to visit your father and verify that the institution was taking good care of him? What was your take on your father's mental condition? Had he been diagnosed with cognitive decline related to the Parkinsons?

So, you were the sole beneficiary, and the trustee was not a beneficiary?

This seems like a complicated situation, and of course it is further complicated by your own grief. Hang in there... a lawsuit might bring justice, but at what cost--emotional and financial--to you is something you must consider. Remember, your friends and family are hearing your own account. A judge looks at admissible evidence.
You understand exactly. The trustee was never a beneficiary, and a few weeks before my dad died, he takes $500,000 assets - at exact same timeline he is repeatedly told by facility that my dad needs 24/7 care or move out to nursing home. Trustee had a duty to maintain my dad's money, not take it, and lose incentive to get him needed care. Covid was spreading within facility at the time, and I am guessing trustee thought my dad would die soon by that or the fact my dad seemed close to death, according to a text trustee sent me months earlier. I obtained my dad's medical record and it documents dad's cognitive decline going back long before alleged changes to trust. Plus I have other family witnesses, who were close to my dad. My dad wandered into the hallway, not out the building. Is what I was told. I think if this went to court, I have an excellent chance of winning. I'd prefer to mediate and move on. Thank you for your thoughts.
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
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LilyFleur
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by LilyFleur »

bsteiner wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:46 pm
legio XX wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:55 pm Condolences on the loss of your father, and sympathy for what you are now dealing with. The situation is rotten. Been there, done that with my mother's SS (surviving spouse). His shenanigans included:
- a couple of forged signatures, one on the day she died ...
We once contested a Will on the ground of forgery and settled with the majority of the estate going to our clients.

We had another estate where, after the decedent died but before the bank was notified that he had died, there were two faxes to the bank, purportedly signed by the decedent but obviously not signed by the decedent since he was no longer alive, directing the bank to transfer about €200,000 to the suspected thief's offshore account. We obtained a judgment against the suspected thief but don't know whether we'll be able to collect it. The estate tax was the subject of a Tax Court proceeding where one of the issues was the deductibility of the theft loss. The IRS argued that we might recover on the judgment. The Tax Court case was settled.

We had another estate where the agent under a power of attorney that didn't authorize gifts, transferred a substantial amount to a trust that was first for the decedent, then for two relatives of the decedent who weren't beneficiaries under his WIll, and then following all of their deaths the balance to the agent's daughter. We contested the transfer and settled the case.
After my remaining parent was declared incapacitated, my parents' corporate trustee refused to allow the normal Christmas gifts to the grandchildren ($500 each) as gifts were not authorized in the trust. Now I see the value in that. I did go ahead and gave my children the normal Christmas gift as if it were from their remaining grandparent as the grandparent had that intent. I was upfront and transparent about it with my kids.
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LiveSimple
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by LiveSimple »

GetSmarter wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:47 pm
Wricha wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:43 pm [quote=OnTrack2020 post_id=5494222 time=1600080650 user_id=118977]
LiveSimple wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:55 am Understand but move on in life.
Would you move on if a step-sibling took $500,000 of your parent's money for themself?
5. At some point in life it is more important to learn to surrender than it is to be right. In the end you are going to surrender everything so why not practice a little now.
Thank you for writing! I appreciate your sentiments, particularly the following:

At some point in life it is more important to learn to surrender than it is to be right. In the end you are going to surrender everything so why not practice a little now.

This would be a great story/event to get past so use it for your benefit.
[/quote]

I did not want to add to the misery of the OP, however every family / most families will have similar stories, I have.
Thanks for understanding and relationships comes with some economical factors.

Thanks GetSmarter, Wricha for your note.
Bobby206
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by Bobby206 »

OnTrack2020 wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 5:50 am
LiveSimple wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:55 am Understand but move on in life.
Would you move on if a step-sibling took $500,000 of your parent's money for themself?
I answer this question by saying I would look for a qualified attorney who would take the case on a contingency fee basis. If so, then it's a viable case. Then I can decide to go with that attorney or hire someone hourly (obviously there are pros and cons). If a person interviews 3 or 4 qualified attorneys non will take on a contingency then I know I have no case. It's a business decision ultimately to me.
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by JediMisty »

IANAL either. But the advice to see if your case can be taken on contingency which would imply you have a good case seems solid. Even if you lose, you KNOW in your heart the money was intended for you. Hold onto that. 500k is a boatload of money. Fight. You're hurting now, but it will take time to sue. As it rolls along, you will get stronger, even if the grief is still in your heart. I know this from experience.
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GetSmarter
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

JediMisty wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:26 pm IANAL either. But the advice to see if your case can be taken on contingency which would imply you have a good case seems solid. Even if you lose, you KNOW in your heart the money was intended for you. Hold onto that. 500k is a boatload of money. Fight. You're hurting now, but it will take time to sue. As it rolls along, you will get stronger, even if the grief is still in your heart. I know this from experience.
I was offered by more than one lawyer to take my case as a lawsuit on contingency, though currently that's not the road I've chosen. I prefer mediation, if the other side agrees, otherwise, yes, suing is still on the table. It sounds like you won your case.
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
dknightd
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by dknightd »

Your story makes me want to cry.

Pretty sure the 2020 amendment will be thrown out, if contested, since your dad was clearly not competent when he signed it.

"I sometimes wish I went with the passionate smart woman attorney I met but she was so angry at the thief in my family, she really wanted to see a criminal case against him, and put him in jail. "
I'd be tempted to follow up on that.

It really depends on what you want. I think I'd want the whole thing to go away, and be behind me. I'd probably just accept the "paltry" amount the trustee is willing to give you. If you need the money, then perhaps it is a different story.

Best wishes
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds (or none) from the market, invest the funds.
Wricha
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by Wricha »

FoolStreet wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:50 pm
GetSmarter wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:47 pm
Wricha wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:43 pm [quote=OnTrack2020 post_id=5494222 time=1600080650 user_id=118977]
LiveSimple wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:55 am Understand but move on in life.
Would you move on if a step-sibling took $500,000 of your parent's money for themself?
Absolutely. Paid for parents’ long term care for 8 years. Had the loan document prepared and signed for the cost of care. Sibling knew I paid for the cost of care. Sibling emailed me saying I will get paid first with any money left in estate. Parents died and sibling took half the estate and left me in holding the bag. Yes I lost a good bit of my own money. Had the estate paid the loan the sibling would of received nothing from the estate.
Take away.
1. Had the legal authority to claw back the money, as the estate owned me the money through a loan document my parents made (unknown to sibling). Somehow letting it go was the best course of action.
2. Feel blessed for be able to afford the cost of care, as my parents sacrificed so much for me. (Much much more than the cost of long term care).
3. Words like thief, thug are not used for clarity they only keep an awful story alive irrespective if you are anonymous.
4. Not a Buddhist, not sure karmic action is used to get even or keep score.
5. At some point in life it is more important to learn to surrender than it is to be right. In the end you are going to surrender everything so why not practice a little now.
6.This would be a great story/event to get past so use it for your benefit.
7. If you must hire an attorney do so and let them handle it. Don’t call and ask about the case continually, again by constant inquiry you are just keeping a very bad story alive.
8. If attorney’s negotiate a settlement be content with the outcome as there is never enough.
9. Oh yeah, the half I got donated it to the nursing home so everyone made out!
Thank you for writing! I appreciate your sentiments, particularly the following:

At some point in life it is more important to learn to surrender than it is to be right. In the end you are going to surrender everything so why not practice a little now.

This would be a great story/event to get past so use it for your benefit.
Why didn’t everyone know about the loan? Or submit the loan docs to the estate?
[/quote]
Thank you for your kind comments. The sibling had given some of the estate to their children and would have been embarrassing/awkward for everyone plus I was caught off guard since I handed a check at the funeral.
J295
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by J295 »

Didn’t read up thread. perhaps already been suggested.

1. Mediation for legal dispute
2. Counseling for OP if interested
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GetSmarter
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

dknightd wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:10 am Your story makes me want to cry.

Pretty sure the 2020 amendment will be thrown out, if contested, since your dad was clearly not competent when he signed it.

"I sometimes wish I went with the passionate smart woman attorney I met but she was so angry at the thief in my family, she really wanted to see a criminal case against him, and put him in jail. "
I'd be tempted to follow up on that.

It really depends on what you want. I think I'd want the whole thing to go away, and be behind me. I'd probably just accept the "paltry" amount the trustee is willing to give you. If you need the money, then perhaps it is a different story.

Best wishes
Thank you for your empathy. It is sad. It's very difficult to lose my dad. On top of that it's very difficult to feel betrayed. If I went with the passionate lawyer, who is not in mourning like I am, I felt I may never leave the sadness behind rather like Groundhog day, keep reliving it. It's strange dealing with the staid lawyer I chose, who is matter of fact. Maybe as time passes, I'll shed some sadness and think differently about a lawsuit. If so, I have a deadline to sue and will need to figure that out in next few weeks. Right now, the other side isn't offering near what I want. If nothing else, I thought by sharing, I might help someone else avoid our tragedy and I may avoid a future tragedy as I age by protecting myself and my finances better than my dad did.
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
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galawdawg
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by galawdawg »

Did I see in one of your posts that your stepbrother/trustee is himself wealthy/affluent/financially well-off?

If so, you may want to inquire of your attorney whether the facts of the case and the law in the jurisdiction would support a claim for exemplary (punitive) damages. Assuming that these events occurred in your state of California, the law there provides that "In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant."

Those terms are defined as follows:

(1) “Malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.

(2) “Oppression” means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.

(3) “Fraud” means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/face ... onNum=3294.#

So if the facts and law support an award of exemplary damages and if your stepbrother/trustee has assets of their own in addition to the trust assets that you allege were stolen or fraudulently obtained, that is a consideration both as to whether to litigate the case or attempt to settle and can inform the strategy that is decided upon for mediation. A defendant with assets that can be seized and sold who is facing a strong case for both actual and exemplary damages is generally more likely to settle in a manner favorable for a plaintiff than when they are "judgment-proof" or the case is weak.

I am not admitted to practice law in California and of course, IANYL. Be sure to follow your attorney's advice in all matters related to your case. Best wishes.
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GetSmarter
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

galawdawg wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:11 pm Did I see in one of your posts that your stepbrother/trustee is himself wealthy/affluent/financially well-off?

If so, you may want to inquire of your attorney whether the facts of the case and the law in the jurisdiction would support a claim for exemplary (punitive) damages. Assuming that these events occurred in your state of California, the law there provides that "In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant."

Those terms are defined as follows:

(1) “Malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.

(2) “Oppression” means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.

(3) “Fraud” means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/face ... onNum=3294.#

So if the facts and law support an award of exemplary damages and if your stepbrother/trustee has assets of their own in addition to the trust assets that you allege were stolen or fraudulently obtained, that is a consideration both as to whether to litigate the case or attempt to settle and can inform the strategy that is decided upon for mediation. A defendant with assets that can be seized and sold who is facing a strong case for both actual and exemplary damages is generally more likely to settle in a manner favorable for a plaintiff than when they are "judgment-proof" or the case is weak.

I am not admitted to practice law in California and of course, IANYL. Be sure to follow your attorney's advice in all matters related to your case. Best wishes.
Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I've been told fraud and punitive damages would apply should I pursue a lawsuit. I have tremendous documentation and witnesses but I prefer mediation in order to move on with my life sooner than later. However, I do not plan for him to just get away with it. He behaved over the top wrong on many levels and hurt others. I want what my dad intended before fraudulent amendment. At moment, he's not handing over the requested accounting or other asked for items. If he forces me by inaction, I will file a lawsuit but I suggested mediation. Hoping to avoid elongated unpleasantness. I've never experienced anything like this, so we'll see.
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
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Nate79
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by Nate79 »

I don't recall if you mentioned it or not but what is the feedback from the police/DA's office?
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GetSmarter
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

Nate79 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:45 pm I don't recall if you mentioned it or not but what is the feedback from the police/DA's office?
I didn't go that route.
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
BillWalters
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by BillWalters »

It seems likely that your only practical options are:

1. Accept a small settlement and move on.

2. Buckle up for years of litigation.

The fact you can’t even get an accounting is a very bad sign. If the events transpired as you claim and you have strong evidence, you’ll probably “win,” but it will take a very long time and actually recovering the money could be extremely difficult.

Good luck. I feel for you.
TheDDC
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by TheDDC »

GetSmarter wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:11 pm
Nate79 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:45 pm I don't recall if you mentioned it or not but what is the feedback from the police/DA's office?
I didn't go that route.
Consider going that route. Use the state's money to go after fraud. Otherwise you are just chasing your tail here without something more definitive in your court.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex
000
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Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by 000 »

Not legal advice. But if it were me I would demand a criminal investigation and prosecution.
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GetSmarter
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:49 pm

Re: Financial Elder Abuse/Neglect/Inheritance Theft - lawsuit or mediation?

Post by GetSmarter »

GetSmarter wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:47 pm A cautionary tale: Have checks and balances set up with trustee(s) to avoid abuse, negligence, theft. My 91 year old father had advanced Parkinson's for decades, and died after a fall when he wandered outside. This is so painful I'm going to leave out a lot but suffice to say, my dad's trustee (his stepson) neglected his care, by not hiring the recommended 24/7 caregiver, that led to my dad's death. One reason the trustee apparently failed to hire the needed help, as it turned out, within weeks of my dad's death, the trustee had my dad sign away over half a million dollars to himself with an amendment to the trust. A lawyer my dad never met, the trustee's lawyer, created the amendment. It was signed during Covid quarantine. No notary. The part time caregiver that the trustee hired snuck it into the assisted living building. This amendment to a large degree partially disinherited me. In addition to the abuse/neglect, I learned, after my dad died, that there was very little money left in the trust to pay expenses. A shock. The trustee told me as a result, my diminished inheritance would need to be further diminished to pay lawyer, himself, etc. My father took in over 1/2 million a year and had long term care insurance, paying most the bills. Where'd the money go? I hired a lawyer.

I have a lawyer who is encouraging mediation if the other side steps up, otherwise, my understanding is I sue the thief in court. I was able to obtain my dad's medical records that documents his cognitive decline long before the 2020 amendment. My dad and I had a very close relationship. The only reason the stepson was originally trustee (he pushed for it with my brother's support) despite my dad wanted me, as evidenced my dad went to his lawyer years ago to nominate me but his stepson fought it, my dad succumbed, thinking it'd be easier on me not to be trustee, considering I have a biological brother that proved himself untrustworthy, bribing parents for money in the past. My dad thought it'd be best for me not to deal with my brother. Dad thought since his stepson was not in his will, and happened to be wealthy, there'd be no problems. I believe the theft from my father, occurred because of both stepbrothers, perhaps over a period of years: Undue influence, greed, neglect.

It's hard to lose my dad. The theft and neglect compounds the heart-break.

I've thought about Pollyanna: look at what I have and my possibilities for the future.

I've thought about the Lesson: always have checks and balances of protection set up for myself, moving forward, as in more than one trustee.

I've thought about how I want this thug in jail for theft and wrongful death.

I've thought about the fact this happens to many families. I'm having another life experience. Like first love. First major financial and elder abuse betrayal. I learned law firms specialize in step-sibling theft (not their parent), which makes me think why waste my valuable time on seeking justice? I understand the courts, especially now, can be drawn out and offer more heart-break and expense.

I've thought about how writing about what happened to me and my dad may help you and someone you love be better protected. My father, if alive and healthy, would be heart-broken by what his trustee did and how the betrayal, on top of his loss, devastated me.

Currently, the thief is using what little is left of my dad's trust to defend himself from me. He has offered me a tiny fraction of what my dad intended for me to go away. I have not given in to crumbs. I was my dad's beneficiary for 60 years. The thug and thief was a self-created beneficiary for only a few weeks of my dad's life, at a time my dad was most vulnerable, unable to do or understand anything for himself.

I'd love to turn off this situation from my life. It's painful. I'm tired. The last three years of my life, I was the prime caregiver to both parents, to one degree or another. My mom full-time. My dad got to where I wasn't strong enough for his needs. He needed 24/7 care with someone strong. I need a break from difficulties. Yes, I want justice, but at what price? How do I move on into a peaceful life, free from sadness about the betrayal on top of loss?

Thoughts on navigating this if you had something similar happen? And how to trust anyone again?
Thank you to everyone who shared thoughts and empathy. I am going toward mediation for resolution, with an extended period enacted should I wish to start a lawsuit because I am not satisfied with negotiation. Thanks again for your well-wishes and ideas. Much appreciated!
“The more simple we are, the more complete we become.” August Rodin | | “The less I needed, the better I felt.” Charles Bukowski
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