Probate Matters

Pamela M. Kerr CPA, CFE, FCPA - Kerr Forensic Accounting

Probate matters are not limited to the administration of the estate of a deceased person. They also include trusts, conservatorships and power of attorneys, which generally involve family members and money. We know that when money and families are involved, the issues can get heated, personal and controversial.  We sort out the facts surrounding the dispute. Our expertise is in assembling and analyzing accounting records and financial institution documents to determine what has taken place. Accounting is the process of recording and reporting the activity of an account -- forensic accounting is determining and reporting what really happened as supported by the facts and bringing this information out in a clear report.

 

TRUSTS

We can assist you by reviewing the activity in your trust to detect potential misuse of funds or misappropriation of assets. Our “trust protection services” can be invaluable in preventing potential loss or limiting the current loss.

An example of these services includes:


 

CONSERVATORSHIPS

One of our specialty areas is the review of documents filed by Conservators. Our results have supported or disproved claims of misuse or misappropriation by the fiduciary. Our reports have resulted in criminal and/or civil matters for recovery.

Some examples of these services include:

 

POWER OF ATTORNEY ABUSE:

“Principal” means an individual who grants authority to an agent in a power of attorney.

“Agent” means a person granted authority to act for a principal under a power of attorney.

“Power of Attorney” means a writing or other record that grants authority to an agent to act in the place of the principal, whether or not the term power of attorney is used.

When a Principal grants the Agent a Power of Attorney, they often are not aware of the power that the Agent has over their finances. The headlines are rife with reports of financial exploitation of the elderly and all too often, it involves Power of Attorney abuse. Financial exploitation even affects the rich and famous: “ Mickey Rooney Claims Elder Abuse ” and “ Brooke Astor’s Son Is Sentenced to Prison. ”

Power of Attorney Abuse is one of the new “tools” for financial exploitation of the elderly. Family members and non-family members alike are obtaining a Power of Attorney over their parents, grandparents, family friends and even neighbors and, literally stealing their life savings.

Colorado enacted The Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA), effective January 1, 2010. ( C.R.S. §15-14-701 et.seq., which means Colorado Revised Statutes, Article 15, Title 14, Section 701 and following). The UPOAA provides greater safeguards and protection for the principal by limiting the authority of the agent (C.R.S. §15-14-724). The following require express authority from the Principal to the Agent:

The new UPOAA also provides the following persons the ability to petition a court to…review the agent’s conduct and grant appropriate relief: (C.R.S. §15-14-716)

If you suspect that an agent with a power of attorney may be abusing their power, we recommend hiring legal counsel immediately. We can work with your legal counsel to determine if funds have been misspent or misappropriated and prepare an analysis to determine the losses. The misuse of the elders’ funds may also impact their eligibility for Medicaid benefits.

Probate matters are our specialty. Contact us today to set up a free consultation regarding your concerns.