Probate/Estate Law Case Studies

Successes We Have Had

case-studiesThe Crafty Caretaker Exploitation Stopped

A caretaker was embezzling money from an elderly client. The client had been diagnosed with dementia and onset of Alzheimer’s, and she also suffered from a host of other physical ailments. Family members hired an attorney, who retained us to conduct an investigation.

  • We identified thousands of dollars in cashed checks and ATM withdrawals made while the client was confined to the hospital for weeks at a time.
  • We also obtained medical records documenting the woman’s diminished capacity from her physicians and a local hospital.
  • Interviews were conducted with family members and friends of the client, as well as her CPA, to document the client’s deteriorating condition and the caretaker’s access to funds.

Result: This case was eventually presented to the local State Attorney’s office for review. The family was satisfied that their mother’s situation had been thoroughly investigated and documented.

Information Provided to Support Criminal Case for Embezzlement

A client was the guardian for her brother, who received a large structured settlement after a serious crash. She was also the caretaker for her elderly mother, who became ill. She asked another family member to care for the injured brother. A few months later, she discovered that the family member had “transferred” the structured settlement to several different companies, and that thousands of dollars had been advanced to the brother and used by the relative for expensive home improvements and travel.

  • We identified several orders authorizing the transfer of the structured settlement and release of funds from jurisdictions in Florida and Texas, in counties where the brother had never resided.
  • Affidavits purportedly from the injured brother were identified, in which the reason for the release of funds was for property improvements on real estate owned by the family member.
  • An altered driver license with the brother’s name and the family member’s photo was uncovered.
  • The family member was also a convicted felon, charged with dealing in stolen property several years prior. In that case, we discovered that he used a phony driver license with the injured brother’s name to pawn stolen merchandise.

Result: This case was referred to a law enforcement agency in Texas where the family member lived. The brother was moved back to his sister’s home and the criminal case is pending.

Medical Record Proof Secured Guardianship

The attorney was looking for evidence of a client’s neurological condition at a certain time. With a power of attorney from the personal representative, we gathered records of treatment at several hospitals. The hospital’s records revealed a consultation with a neurologist, which the family was unaware of. The neurologist was contacted and provided his records of treatment, which substantiated the family’s suspicion of the client’s condition.

Result: The attorney had her evidence and was able to secure a guardianship for the client.

Interviews and Research Saved Assets

A family member was suspected of embezzling thousands of dollars from an elderly patient. He claimed the patient authorized all the payments and was in her right mind when she did so. Friends of the patient were interviewed. They played bridge with the patient for years, but in the months prior to the allegations, they stopped playing cards with the elderly woman as she would lose focus, ramble in her speech, and engage in erratic behavior. Other interviews with financial professionals and family members confirmed her failing mental condition.

Result: The attorneys were able to take action with these interviews to protect the patient’s assets and to order an evaluation which determined the patient suffered from onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Grandchildren Found

The client, executive director for a local charity, was engaged in a building project. During the course of the development, a small piece of property adjacent to the proposed building was identified as belonging to a husband and wife who had ownership via a quit claim deed filed in the 1950’s.

  • Databases did not include the husband’s name, and the wife’s name had no relatives associated with it.
  • A search of online obituary notices failed to uncover information on either party.
  • We accessed the web site and were able to identify the parties by dates of birth on a ship’s manifest. Another document revealed a daughter born to the parents in the 1930’s.
  • Research via online databases and obituary notices helped us identify two daughters who still lived in the West Palm Beach area. These were the granddaughters of the original owners of the small parcel.
  • An investigator traveled to the home of the older sister. She was very gracious as the investigator explained the reason for his visit. In fact, she wasn’t surprised by the visit, as she knew that her grandparents owned quite a bit of property in the area when they were alive.

Result: The client was able to make contact with the granddaughter, and the family agreed to deed the property to the charity, in exchange for naming the grandparents in the project.