When a loved one passes away in California, sometimes the will may carry with it some bitter surprises. This is the case for relatives of one retired factory worker, a lifelong loner who lived by himself and died of advanced dementia at the age of 92. After a funeral service which family members were excluded from, they learned that his entire estate, as well as his power of attorney for medical issues and his annuities, were given to a financial adviser that he met 10 years prior to his death.
At the time of his death, the annuities were worth more than $1 million and his entire estate was greater than $1.6 million. The retired worker was cremated and buried at a private funeral arranged by the financial adviser. After the revelations, 12 of the worker’s nieces and nephews filed a lawsuit to contest the will, alleging that the financial adviser manipulated the deceased man into making her the sole beneficiary, as he was already suffering from dementia when the will was written.
The financial adviser is also facing pressure from state regulators in Wisconsin, who are calling for the revocation of her insurance license and demanding a $2 million fine. After the charges were filed, the financial adviser relinquished her license, but the proceedings have not been ended. The financial adviser sold the annuities to the retired man in the first place before naming herself as the beneficiary of the investments. In her defense, the financial adviser claims that she did not seek to become the beneficiary of the man’s estate and was his only friend toward the end of his life while he was estranged from his family.
People who are involved in disputes over an inheritance can speak with a lawyer to represent them. Inheritance theft by unscrupulous financial advisers or caregivers can be a particular threat when people are vulnerable due to dementia or other conditions.