|Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA)||Guarding Against Guardian Abuse||How the Goods Are Gotten When the Will Gets in the Way||Trust – Should You?|
A lifetime is spent accumulating assets. For many of us, we’ve worked hard and achieved prosperity. We now look forward to passing on to our children or designated loved ones the fruits of our labor which they can in turn use productively in their lives and share similarly with their heirs. Predators driven by self-interest are present in all walks of life, but as we get older and/or incapacitated, the risk for exploitation becomes greater. As wealth is relative, no one is immune from being targeted for Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA).
IRA is a process in which unscrupulous individuals use the age and/or incapacitation of a person to gain control of their personal assets and “redistribute” them in a manner contrary to what the person intended. The redistribution can happen during the person’s lifetime through a guardianship or power of attorney or posthumously via a will or trust. Family members, friends or even “trusted” associates like a lawyer or caregiver are potential IRA practitioners. With legal and financial maneuvering, IRA can sometimes be accomplished within technical limits of the law.
Unfortunately, these cases often occur within frameworks that relegate them to being treated as civil rather than criminal matters. With a minimal threat of legal consequences, estate theft becomes a more appealing endeavor. Law enforcement is tepid to become involved often discounting such cases as “family disputes.” Politicians and governmental officials often find cover by feigning ignorance of estate abuse, probate corruption or specific IRA perpetrators with such actions costing targeted Americans their freedom, property or both. The collateral damage to their families can also be a life changing experience.
Historically, court battles are the traditional “remedy” for IRA actions. How convenient as the legal industry, complete with lawyers, judges and associated court personnel helped create this problem – and not by accident. Win or lose, the massive financial expense, as well as emotional toll, often yields the only true “winners” in these cases to be the participating lawyers.
Transparency is an avenue to addressing the egregious process that allows the looting of assets via probate venues or probate instruments. Meaningful reform, however, will not be an easy task. The legal industry is powerful with few insiders willing to stand up against their own. Secrecy is a great friend to the IRA practitioner and their protectors.
However, as more of these cases occur and affect people at levels throughout the economic spectrum, “shining light on the dark side of estate management” will become the important first step toward shutting down IRA practitioners, exposing their allies and returning integrity to the arena of estate management and the probate process.