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.
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:
- Reviewed 15 years of partnership tax returns, general ledgers and bank records included in a trust. Prepared financial schedules including cash analysis, capital account analysis and bank activity analysis in support of civil litigation.
- Performed forensic audit of Trust related to alleged theft of funds from trust including multiple accounts and trustees. Provided report of findings to Probate Court. Qualified and testified as an expert. Previous trustees were ordered to repay the Trust ~$185,000.00.Provided report to law enforcement in support of criminal charged filed.
- Performed forensic audit of $23 million estate from the assets at date of death to the distributions to beneficiaries.Reviewed investment account statements for multiple accounts over 3+ years, reviewed and analyzed Estate Tax Return (Form 706) and Estate Income Tax Returns (Form 1041) and prepared a report of findings to be filed with the Court. Determined that the Personal Representative had not included a $300,000 distribution to a beneficiary in the Final Accounting.
- Performed forensic audit of documents related to Estate of individual involved in multiple LLC’s.Reviewed over 10,000 pages of documents provided by opposing counsel including LLC tax returns and related LLC documents; closing statements from sales of multiple properties including Section 1031 Exchanges; reconstructed accounting records of multiple LLC’s created to develop properties; and reviewed final accounting prepared by legal counsel. Prepared Calculation of Loss for mediation
- Performed forensic audit of Estate documents related to alleged theft of funds by Personal Representative. Qualified and testified as an expert at jury trial.
- Filed Writ of Garnishment in relation to judgments obtained for client and assisted in legal counsel’s successful argument against Claim of Exemption. Filed Interrogatories and property liens in relation to collection of judgments obtained for client. Worked with legal counsel to execute Sheriff’s sale on property for satisfaction of judgments.
- Reviewed trust documents for potential misuse of trust funds and issued report of findings.
- Performed forensic audit of financial documents related to potential abuse of Power of Attorney by family member.Provided report to law enforcement in support of criminal charges. Family member was charged with felony theft by Jefferson County, Colorado.
- Prepared analysis of accounting documents relating to Conservatorship. Qualified and testified as an expert at trial.
- Performed forensic audit of financial documents relating to Conservatorship of Protected Person. Reviewed and analyzed 9 years of court documents filed, bank and investment statements, and supporting documentation. Prepared Calculation of Damages for settlement.
- Performed forensic audit of trust and estate documents related to potential breach of fiduciary duty by Trustee. Provided report of findings and Calculation of Damages. Provided report to law enforcement in support of potential criminal charges.
- Reviewed Conservator reports filed with Probate Court as volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for the Denver Probate Court. Assisted conservators with correcting
and amending reports.
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:
- Performed a forensic audit of Conservatorship for Probate Court. Reviewed and analyzed 9 years of court documents filed, bank and investment statements, and supporting documentation. Prepared Calculation of Damages for successor Conservator. Was deposed by counsel for former Conservator.
- Performed forensic audit of Conservatorship of Protected Person from the proceeds of a $5 million estate through analysis of the Inventory/Financial Plan and Conservator Reports filed with the Probate Court. Performed forensic audit of documents, including over 25 bank and investment accounts, related to multiple trusts and estate of deceased parent. Qualified and testified as an expert at hearing. Former Conservator was found to have committed Civil Theft and Breach of Fiduciary Duties. Judgments in excess of $4.5 million were issued in favor of victim.
- Reviewed documents related to alleged improper actions of Conservator. Matter settled during trial.
- Performed forensic audit of Conservator Reports filed by parent of Protected Person to determine if financial misappropriation had occurred with the Protected Persons funds.
- Performed forensic audit of Conservatorship. Reviewed Inventory, Financial Plan, and Conservator Reports filed by Conservator. Prepared report for Probate Court and computed potential damages. Investigation included verification of assets including vehicles and sales of vehicles by Conservator.
- Performed forensic audit of Conservatorship for Probate Court. Reviewed trust and banking documents for 2 years. Worked with Conservator to amend Inventory, Financial Plan and Conservator Reports.
- Prepared analysis of accounting documents relating to Conservatorship. Reviewed 4 years of bank statements, financial filings and supporting documents. Certified as expert witness and testified at trial.
- Reviewed Conservator reports filed with Probate Court as volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for the Denver Probate Court. Assisted conservators with correcting and amending reports.
- Examined estate documents regarding suspected estate fraud by the Estate Executor. Reviewed Estate Tax Return, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, bank records and related estate communication.
- Prepared analysis of accounting documents relating to suspected Power of Attorney abuse. Reviewed 2 years of accounting and related documents. Prepared report for Police Department and District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit for criminal prosecution. Prepared Calculation of Damages for potential civil lawsuit.
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:
- Create, amend, revoke or terminate a trust
- Make a gift
- Create or change rights of survivorship
- Create or change a beneficiary designation
- Waive Principal’s rights to be a beneficiary
- Disclaim property for the Principal
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)
- The principal or the agent;
- A guardian, conservator, or other fiduciary acting for the principal;
- A person authorized to make health care decisions for the principal;
- The principal’s spouse, parent or descendant;
- An individual who would qualify as a presumptive heir of the principal
- A person named as a beneficiary to receive any property, benefit, or contractual right on the principal’s death or as a beneficiary of a trust created by or for the principal that has a financial interest in the principal’s estate;
- A governmental agency having regulatory authority to protect the welfare of the principal;
- The principal’s caregiver or another person that demonstrates sufficient interest in the principal’s welfare; and
- A person asked to accept the power of attorney.
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.