Sunday, August 29, 2010

All the Lonely People, Where Do They All Come From?

"...wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. who is it for?" - The Beatles
The Story of Huguette Clark, a Wealthy Heiress Whose Mansions Sit Empty.

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Family of copper heiress asks court to protect her from attorney, accountant.

Huguette Clark's relatives seek a guardian, as the criminal investigation of her money men continues. Their probe could take months to complete because it involves a massive forensic review of financial transactions, according to sources.

Update: Here is how Huguette Clark's millions were spent: more than $3 million dollars on dolls; nearly $2 million to her attorney's favorite charity; another $380,000 in checks written to the staff on a single day, just as the press started to ask questions; and a magic bottomless checking account with $43 million to spend.

In an interesting twist to the case, it appears that Huguette Clark had two wills: one leaving everything to her family, and one leaving nothing.

Like the Clarks, I believe that my family has been the victim of elder financial abuse, although who, what, when and how is still under investigation. We are working to modernize estate laws in California, Washington State and at the Federal level so that the Eskeys (and other families like ours and the Clarks) can reclaim control of the estate assets.

The general plan is to revamp laws that allow families to replace Executors and Trustees to better manage estate assets, and to base these decisions on factors such as blood relations vs. step-families vs. outsiders; and/or incompetence (poorly managed assets, capital gains vs. losses over the years, waste, abuse, lack of reporting, etc.); and/or incapacity (mental or physical illness, injury, something that renders one legally ineligible, disqualification, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.). Today, the rights of trust beneficiaries do not apply to revocable living trusts. We would like to extend the rights of trust beneficiaries to all trusts including living trusts when the value exceeds $1M.

Given the increasing number of cases of estate fraud, trust fraud, elder financial abuse and undue influence, the increasing number of 2nd (and 3rd) marriages, and the increasing number of financial predators in our challenging economic times, we need a better mechanism for families to intervene and reclaim estate assets if fraudulent activity is suspected. We need these processes to be available to families at any time as indication of fraud often doesn't become visible until years afterwards, and is generally exposed via patterns of behavior that emerge over time.

The general outline of our story is elucidated in various posts on my blog including one of the "Top 5" entitled "Misuse of the Law". We welcome your comments and suggestions and encourage you to get involved via organizations like Knowledge as Power in Washington State, OpenGovernment in California, Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Louisiana, and PopVox at the Federal level.

If we are successful, when a new law is enacted, I would like to call it David Eskey's Law, in honor of my father. More information about my family's situation can be found here.

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