Twin Cities readers who followed July's story about an estate dispute over a collectibles business valued at nearly $3 million may be interested to learn that the venerable memorabilia dealership has reopened its doors. An August court ruling in favor of the business owner's sons brought the heated will contest to a close and gave the sons an opportunity to devote their efforts to marshaling business assets.
Twin Cities readers have likely seen some pretty despicable stories about the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Many of these stories involve tactics of coercion employed by someone in a position of trust. Almost universally, the exploiter steals away the life savings of a senior citizen and spends it for his or her own benefit.
Many of our readers in the Twin Cities area may have been paying particular attention to discussions about the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. It seems that some unscrupulous people will stoop to any level to enrich themselves at the expense of the elderly.
Recently, Minnesota's Commerce Commissioner urged the families of senior citizens to use tax time as an opportunity to look for signs of financial abuse, and a recent insurance industry study may give Twin Cities residents extra cause for concern over the estate of a senior loved one. The study concluded that as many as 60 percent of cases reporting financial exploitation of vulnerable adults involved coercion or undue influence by a grown-up child.
As Minnesotans know, older adults can be especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, and sometimes, if coercion or undue influence is suspected to have affected a person's end-of-life wishes, disputes can arise that lead to will contests and other kinds of litigation.
Minnesotan readers will be interested to know that a new leader has been appointed to run the recently founded Office of Older Americans, which is part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The purpose of the new federal agency is to prevent the financial exploitation of seniors, such as in cases of undue influence, coercion and self-dealing.
In the administration of an estate in Minnesota, myriad factors may come into play. Included are not only the disposition of property, but also issues such as a potential will contest based on allegations of undue influence. Currently, the burden of proving undue influence is on those making the allegation, but there are some who wish to change this aspect of the law.