From California

I enjoyed reading your site. It is a relief to see that other people have had similar experiences. Sometimes I feel isolated because most other people either believe in the “system” or are abusing it themselves, and in any case I did get a significant amount out of my mother’s estate so I should be happy, right?

My mother died 3 years ago. She had named her accountant as her trustee and his lawyer had also been her lawyer. They were perfectly poised to “tag team” the heirs (my two siblings and me), with the accountant paying himself unjustifiably large administrative fees and the lawyer totally unnecessary consulting fees generated by the lawyer’s own “churning” activities.

After seven months and still no meeting with the trustee, I hired a lawyer, who at least brought it about that we got some basic information about the estate: assets, liabilities etc., and finally a meeting with the trustee. My take on what happened is that the lawyer had been busy during that time talking to my mother’s creditors to ensure that the heirs would face an impossible credit situation on distribution of the assets, which meant that the alternative was to keep the assets in the trust much longer than intended so the trustee could continue to collect and keep the income. At some point, I think, he would then run the business (farm and residential rentals) into bankruptcy because of insufficiency to pay his and the lawyer’s fees, the property would be sold and he would keep the lion’s share of the proceeds.

Working together with the help of my lawyer, my brother and I were able to prevent the worst from happening. But the bottom line was that the approx. $3 million estate had to pay these buffoons several hundred thousand dollars for doing next to nothing. The final chapter was telling. My lawyer’s approach was “play dead and hope that they don’t take it all.” Still, he charged me lots of money for “frothing” about it over the course of two years. In the end, he advised me to “hold my nose” and sign a document absolving the trustee of any liability in order to get him to release the last of the funds that were left, because he feared the trustee’s “hometown advantage” if we were to go to court.

I reluctantly took his advice, but my brother wanted to fight.  So, with another lawyer, he took the trustee to court. I was there and testified. It was a horrible farce that shook my very faith in America. The judge was obviously in on the whole thing. In an empty courtroom, he basically rubber-stamped the trustee’s actions, hardly even looking at the documents that were presented by the other side. He completely discounted my testimony because he judged that my body language demonstrated that I was a “difficult” person who must have made administering the trust very hard indeed and worth all the money spent on that.

Anyway, keep up the good work, and please let me know if there is some way to systematically oppose this trend toward involuntary
redistribution of assets.

C.E.

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Stories of Denial
  • Anne

    I am aware of C.E.’s case. He was battered and robbed by the same lawyers, judges, and CPA that blatantly stole my inheritance.
    This is 2009. Media abounds. There are cameras everywhere,it seems, except for Merced County, where a judge accused C.E. of being a “difficult” person because of his body language. Excuse me? His body language?
    Did he sneer? Did he roll his eyes? Is that enough to make it so that a judge can ignore evidence? That body language wouldn’t show up in the court transcript, if there had been one. But no, C.E. was ushered into the same dark and unmonitored (no microphones, no cameras, no reporter) where I was, where I heard, with my own ears, the following dialogue:
    My lawyer: “But, Your Honor, in the interest of Justice…”
    Judge: “I don’t care about that!”
    At this point, I recoiled: my eyes got wider, I gasped. The judge stood up, pointed and me and hollered, “I SAW THAT!”
    I did have a court reporter, but somehow “I SAW THAT”
    turned into a calm “I heard that.” And somehow my gasp evolved into me saying “Yeah!”, out loud, to the court. I said nothing. Doesn’t matter, does it? The court reporter wouldn’t lie, now would she?
    Heard what? My gasp was the only sound audible in the courtroom. I was dumbfounded.
    And that is a true, verbatim dialogue from a Merced
    County Courtroom — which, by the way, is one of the two or three California Counties whose court documents aren’t available online.
    It’s easy to see why.
    The above unbelieveable exchange took place in front of two journalists.
    These judges are complacent in their abject bias. No one will call them on it…they’re all in on it. This is reprehensible.
    Like me, C.E. provided copious evidence proving his case. The judge didn’t even look at it. In my case, my bank statements, property deeds, and sworn declarations were waved away as “hearsay” and “unfounded claims.”
    But…but…they can’t do that, can they?
    You bet they can. And they do.
    The Lawyer/CPA tag team that raped C.e’s family estate got far more from my father’s estate than I did. They’re pros, ready to retire, and retire they will, on stolen money.
    Pillars of the community.
    Where is the media? The former watchdog of the Justice System is nowhere to be found. They don’t want to step on toes or offend the judges, our supposed “public servants.”
    It ain’t like “Law & Order”, I can tell you that. If any of you know anyone who can turn on the light and scatter these cockroaches, please, come forth. This is of national interest. I pray that someone notices — and soon.
    AW

  • Elinor Williams

    I suppose it will have to be all of us en masse who protest. My parents’ estate has been squandered also, and it because quite clear to me that anything the conservator asked the Court for, she got. (I am one of the “difficult” ones and have been identified as such in Court documents.) I felt like Hester Prin in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and didn’t want to fight much for a while. Now I am looking for others who will file complaints against Linda Banta, a conservator in Berkeley, California. If you have ANY desire to make her lose her license, please contact me at cpredshiftstorage@yahoo.com Thank you!

    Elinor