Archive for the ‘Fidiciary’ Category

Hostage To The System

August 20, 2009
A few years back a local man by the name of Tom Davis shattered his knee and was admitted into a nursing home.

Life had grown dark and depressing for Davis until he met a beautiful, inspiring fellow patient who had a brief stay at the home while recovering from a stroke.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, developed a lasting friendship with Davis and enjoyed the company of an intelligent man with whom she could comfortably converse. Davis and his companion shared similar backgrounds, both having roots in rural surroundings. They became inseparable friends and soon fell in love.

On June 25, the couple married.

However, the honeymoon never truly began for the happy newlyweds because Davis’ financial life is chained to the legal system.

The couple talked of traveling together and possibly relocating, but Davis was informed that he could not leave the state. In fact he could not drive, vote, or even open up a bank account.

said Davis, shaking his head in dismay: “I’m a hostage to the system. I even tried opening up my own bank account, but they shut it down,” he said, referring to his legal guardian.

Davis became a ward of the Gila County Public Fiduciary Office.

Anyone who knows Davis can see that he is not incapacitated. State statute allows the ward or any person interested in his welfare to petition for a new court appointed attorney to reevaluate their situation.

Last August, Mrs. Davis did just that. Her petition was recognized and her husband did have his day in court, but to no avail. At the hearing his fiduciary spoke for him, but it was not the representation Davis was hoping for. He was not allowed to speak for himself at the hearing and make his case to the judge that he was a capable man of sound mind.

Mrs. Davis stated that the judge rubber-stamped him as an “adult protected person” upon his fiduciary’s recommendation, and he was denied impartial representation by a court appointed attorney.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing home romance stifled by system

Tiffany Poarch of Gila County Public Fiduciary is registered with the National Guardianship Association

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Attorney General Intervention

July 20, 2009
The state attorney general claimed victory in a legal battle stemming from 2005 that challenged the legitimacy of a sales agreement in which an elderly woman agreed to sell her home to two men for less than half of what it was worth at the time.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal intervened after Mona Lee Johnson agreed to sell her home, estimated to be worth $1.2 million, for $500,000, a month before she passed away.

The Attorney General’s Office alleged that her neighbor, Mark Lovallo, had urged Johnson to sign off on the sales option while she was sick in the hospital. The deal also included her longtime accountant, David Alfano.

Blumenthal said that Johnson never intended to approve the deal, which would have significantly lowered the amount of money that would have been donated to eight of her favorite charities. Johnson’s will divided nearly all of her $1.5 million estate to charities including the Greenwich Library and Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich.

Blumenthal: “I fought successfully to stop this suspect agreement denying hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities intended to benefit from the home’s sale. In charity law, the donor’s wishes are paramount. This donor never wished to sell her home at a bargain-basement price, significantly slashing the proceeds to charities named in her will.”

Full Article and Source:
Attorney general intervenes in Greenwich estate case

Where The Money Is

June 24, 2009
Authorities charge that Salem County investment adviser Jeffrey Southard systematically bilked elderly clients out of $1.8 million in a Ponzi scheme that unraveled when securities regulators began looking into his business. Southard pleaded guilty to preying on elderly clients, who turned over their money to him on the promise of guaranteed annual returns of 6 percent to 11 percent.

Instead of enriching his clients, Southard used much of the money to pay his mortgage, private-school tuition, car payments, and other personal expenses.

The story rated a few paragraphs in the newspaper, but the fact is that schemes by investment advisers and other professionals that target elderly clients are proliferating. The reason is, as Willie Sutton put it when asked why he robbed banks, that is where the money is.

People 50 and over are sitting on a vast pile of wealth – 70 percent of the net worth of U.S. households, according to MetLife, the insurance giant. Those assets have been accumulating over several decades of unprecedented economic growth in the United States.

Some elderly are especially vulnerable because they are physically weakened, emotionally vulnerable, or impaired in other ways that might affect their judgment.

That exposure, along with the potential changes in inheritance rules and the sheer magnitude of the over-60 demographic, is helping to fuel a sharp uptick in business for lawyers who are experts in wills and estates and overall wealth management.

Full Article and Source:
Law Review: As scams target elderly, a legal niche also booms

No Evidence of Criminal Activity

June 21, 2009
A state Attorney General’s investigation into Macomb County Probate Court contracts with ADDMS Guardianship Services of Shelby Township found no evidence of criminal activity by the company or the court, according to a recent AG report sent to Michigan Supreme Court officials.

But the report did reveal questionable bookkeeping at ADDMS and possible breaches of fiduciary responsibility. David Tanay, chief of the Attorney General’s criminal division, cited “deficiencies” in how the court is operated and recommended improved verification of bank receipts and prompt inventories of clients’ assets to help correct the problems.

Source:
State finds no criminal actions at Probate Court

See also:
ADDMS and Fortuna Estate

State Probe of Guardianship Firm

Accountant Becomes Guardian

June 18, 2009
After reading last month’s News-Democrat stories about problems with guardianship of impaired adults accountant Charles Fike decided to intervene.

Fike: “What concerned me is the lack of accountings, the lack of showing where the money’s going.”

He told Judge Stephen Rice, who oversees probate court in the county, that he’d like to get into the guardianship business. He has visited with health care providers, such as Memorial Hospital in Belleville, to let them know they can turn to him when trying to find a guardian for a patient.

Since last week, he has been appointed as guardian for three people.

“I see the need for this, and I believe I can do it,” Fike added that he thinks his more than two decades of experience as an accountant and his responsibility in caring for his parents provides the perfect background for this type of work.

Full Article and Source:
Belleville accountant offers to be guardian for impaired adults

Juicy Fees

May 13, 2009
As Erie County’s court-appointed public administrator, Acea Mosey oversees the settlement of estates, hundreds of them, for people who die without relatives or heirs.

And she gets paid handsomely to do it.

Exactly how much is hard to determine, but her caseload is big enough to generate more than $600,000 in potential commissions over the course of about three years.

Mosey, a former Erie County Water Authority commissioner active in Democratic Party politics, says her true compensation is closer to $180,000 a year and not all of that money goes to her.

“There’s a lot of bad with the good,” Mosey said of the estates and the profit or loss they generate.

Unlike the public administrator in Niagara County, who steered estate work to his wife and brother, Mosey, who was appointed by Surrogate Court Judge Barbara Howe, is not accused of doing anything improper.

The state court system allows and even encourages Erie County’s practice of awarding its estate work to a single, private practice lawyer working strictly on commission.

Full Article and Source:
Court appointee defends juicy fees

DHL Heir Lawsuit

May 9, 2009
The civil lawsuit filed by DHL heir Junior Larry Hillbroom against his former attorneys and his trust manager has turned into a disagreement over the release of documents.

Hillbroom, the son of deceased DHL co-founder Larry Hillblom, in February sued attorneys David Lujan and Barry Israel and trust manager Keith Waibel in the Los Angeles federal court, accusing them of taking too much money from his $90 million settlement. They allegedly changed their fee agreement, from 38 percent to 56 percent, without his knowledge, the complaint by Hillbroom states.

According to documents filed in court this week by Hillbroom attorney Graham Lippsmith, Lujan won’t give Hillbroom copies of Lujan’s files related to the Hillbroom case, including financial records. And Hillbroom allegedly won’t allow his entire guardianship case file to be unsealed for use in the civil lawsuit.

Guardianship is an issue in the complaint because Hillbroom was a minor when some of the alleged actions by his attorneys and trust manager supposedly happened.

Full Article and Source:
DHL heir’s lawyers disagree: Lippsmith says Lujan won’t turn over copies of Hillbroom’s files

Greer Files Suit

April 30, 2009
After watching court-appointed officials spend more than $600,000 of her money, Peggy Greer is returning to court to try to win it back.

Greer has filed suit in Hennepin County District Court, claiming that her former guardian and conservator failed to protect her assets, heed her wishes and otherwise fulfill their duties to look after her best interests.

In March 2005, a Hennepin County probate judge ruled that Greer, then recovering from painkiller addiction, was unable to make decisions for herself, and appointed Professional Fiduciary Inc. as her guardian and Wells Fargo Elder Services as her conservator.

Over the next two years, the guardian and conservator spent $672,000 on health costs, attorney’s fees and other expenses, despite objections from Greer and other family members that the spending was excessive and unjustified.

Greer won back her rights in July 2007, after her assets were exhausted and the guardian and conservator no longer opposed their dismissal.

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo Bank, Wells Fargo Private Bank Elder Services, PFI and Ruth Ostrom, an attorney for PFI, of breach of fiduciary duties, which it says caused Greer “severe emotional distress.”

Full Article and Source:
Out of money, Excelsior woman still fighting

See also:
Money Used Up

Judge Adjourned Sentencing

March 31, 2009
Oneida County Court Judge Michael L. Dwyer “reluctantly” adjourned the sentencing of former financial adviser Dorene Dorn after she hired a new attorney.

Dorn was due to be sentenced Monday after she was found guilty in early February of second-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy related to the thefts of more than $350,000 from an elderly client between 2003 and 2004.

But after Dorn recently hired attorney Frank Policelli to replace attorney Les Lewis, who had represented Dorn throughout the trial, Dwyer agreed to postpone the sentencing until Monday, May 11.

Full Article and Source:
Judge ‘reluctantly’ adjourns Dorn sentencing

A generous $20,000 gift from an elderly Utica man to his attorney Mary Helene Hamlin set in motion the scheme that ultimately would drain more than $350,000 from his estate, Hamlin said in Oneida County Court. Hamlin pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny.

During her plea, Hamlin explained how the funds of John B. Hatfield Sr. were unknowingly transferred from his account to her trust fund and other accounts between 2003 and 2004.

Although Hamlin accepted her own guilt, she did not hesitate to mention another woman’s role in the misappropriation of funds that left Hatfield’s estate roughly half its size by the time of his death in early 2005.

Hamlin’s co-defendant, Dorene Dorn, could be seen writing notes from the back of the courtroom as Hamlin repeatedly implicated Dorn.

Hamlin said of the stolen funds: “Some went to Dorene, some went to me.”

Full Article and Source:
Ex-attorney pleads guilty in theft from client

More information:
Hamlin testifies against Dorn, now jury to deliberate

Defendant doesn’t take the stand in Dorn case

Dorene Dorn found guilty of grand larceny and conspiracy

Will Forger Gets Jail

March 30, 2009
Authorities claim Edward Blomfield forged the will of Beverly Graham after she was shot and killed in her apartment by Jennifer San Marco just before San Marco went on a shooting spree at the Goleta U.S. Postal Service distribution center in January 2006, killing six others and then herself. The forged will left Graham’s entire estate, estimated to be worth $750,000, to Blomfield.

Less than a month after Graham’s death, Blomfield produced the will, which Graham’s family immediately contested in probate court. As the result of a complicated civil suit, in which a forensic examiner determined the will was forged, Blomfield was ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution to the Graham family and indicted in criminal court for burglary, financial elder abuse, forgery, conspiracy, and two counts of perjury. Blomfield pled guilty to all charges.

He will serve one year in Santa Barbara County Jail and five years of felony probation. Judge Brian Hill also granted District Attorney Mary Barron two additional requests: that Blomfield not be allowed to act in a fiduciary capacity for anyone and that any current or future employers know of his psychiatric condition.

Full Article and Source:
Will Forger Gets One Year in Jail, Probation