Readers in Minneapolis and St. Paul may have tuned in to our previous discussions about the risks of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, but a recent case involving a gambling grandmother turns the tables on the usual roles of exploiter versus exploited. Criminal charges stemming from the grandmother's looting of her grandson's college trust fund still serve as a lesson in the importance of monitoring the financial practices of an elder family member, but also illustrate the importance of legal assistance in matters of trust administration.
Film buffs in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be most familiar with Reese Witherspoon for her many starring roles in movies. But the actress recently took on a legal role in real life as she petitioned to be appointed her father's conservator. The actress joined with her mother to seek conservatorship over her father, who is believed to suffer from dementia.
Twin Cities bargain hunters are probably familiar with estate sales as an opportunity for good finds, but a recent case that may amount to estate sale fraud might make beneficiaries think twice before hiring someone else to act on behalf of the estate. Because estate sale companies are not subject to any special regulations, they are not liable for the types of fiduciary claims that might apply to a trustee, such as self-dealing or breach of fiduciary duty.
Many readers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area may remember Zsa Zsa Gabor from film and television roles in an acting career that spanned more than four decades. Aside from her TV and big-screen appearances, Gabor also received a load of attention a number of years ago after infamously slapping a police officer. Unfortunately for the 95-year-old screen icon, the headlines today focus on her daughter's petition for the appointment of a conservator over the ailing star's finances.
A recent case of probate litigation may give readers in the Twin Cities even more incentive to monitor the financial activities of elderly loved ones. Through the lawsuit, the legal guardian of an incapacitated millionaire widow is seeking to defeat a charity organization's demand to make good on an alleged $1 million donation commitment.
Bill Graham may be familiar to Twin Cities residents as the concert promoter that helped bring bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones to prominence in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a case filed in probate court nine years after his death, the promoter's legacy now stands in the shadow of probate litigation over the value of his heirs' inheritance.
For families and friends of the elderly in Minnesota, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of what is going on in their lives. Even if people appear to have the best intentions, each week a new story details another case of financial exploitation or undue influence of vulnerable adults. As one recent story highlights, those who are granted guardianship of an elderly relative can sometimes take advantage of the situation for their own benefit, harming others in the process.
Minnesotans considering trust litigation may want to consider the case of a wealthy polo club owner. The entrepreneur established an irrevocable trust naming his two biological children as beneficiaries. He also appointed a wealth management firm to oversee the administration of the trust. Because the trust is irrevocable, the polo club owner has no authority to remove the wealth management company as trustee. Claiming to have lost confidence in the company's management, the entrepreneur elected to adopt his adult girlfriend in order to make her a beneficiary of the trust. Through this adoption, the entrepreneur gave his 42-year-old girlfriend the legal authority to challenge the administration of the trust and potentially replace the wealth management firm with a new trustee.
Minnesotans are known for being very polite and generous people, and not too quick to offend. These admirable traits are just a few things that make living in Minnesota special. However, that these good qualities are the norm may sometimes result in Twin Cities residents' not being particularly comfortable in discussing a loved one's end-of-life wishes. Indeed, many families throughout the country put off important decisions regarding wills, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships and other estate planning matters, and too often the end result is problems with probate.