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The following fiduciary case studies represent an example of our work and clientele to aide you in your decision-making of our skills and experience in trust administration, conservatorships, powers of attorney, mobile notary services, and other service in Orange County, Southern California.

MRS. AMATO (SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST)

Mrs. Amato had an undisclosed medical condition but was not under conservatorship. A few years ago she demanded a new trustee as she didn’t believe that she was getting all that her SNT wanted her to have. We became her fourth trustee after two banks/investment firms and one other private professional.

Under our charge, Mrs. Amato benefited from CARE utility discounts and her telephone service was bundled with her cable service provider. Many of her wants were transferred to her control to help manage expenses by the trust. One year after change in trustees, we petitioned the court to sell the home to pay for additional rents elsewhere. In that time period, we transitioned much of her expectations to her, such as requiring she pay her own vehicle expenses (insurance, maintenance, registration), utilities (while still with the 20% discount), eliminated her telephone with VoIP, and reduced entertainment with bundled services from a satellite service.

Our approach reduced her spending habits by $40,000 per year and thus allowing greater protection of care as desired from the special needs trust. 

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. BATTAGLIA (LIMITED CONSERVATOR FOR PERSON/ESTATE)

Mrs. Battaglia was a high-functioning Down woman whose biological mom refused care and transferred it to her mother (grandmother), who later adopted Mrs. Battaglia.  Early in life our client was well integrated into schools and the community.  However, when her father (grandfather) passed away her mother restricted her activities to inside the house.  She became quite inept at social interactions with all who met her.  She believed that hugging and temper tantrums would yield the positive results she desired.  Her meals consisted of junk food and had serious dental and fungal issues.

With the help of her support staff from a not-for-profit agency, she was reintegrated into the community and given the tools to lead a healthy and happy life. She is an active advocate for her rights and involved with People First to learn how others have succeeded.  Her home is now one that she takes pride in and enjoys having friends over to socialize.  Her personal appearance has improved drastically as more colors burst from her wardrobe.  She enjoys theatre, shopping, Disneyland, travel, and just getting out of the house.

We helped bring a home from the 50s back up to current codes with a new roof, new carpeting, interior and exterior paint, backyard, computer, and front yard landscaping, most of which she personally selected.  She happily invites people over and enjoys the pride of ownership.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. CATTANEO (DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY, AHCD)

When we first met Mrs. Cattaneo, she was in the initial stages of cognitive decline (age 92) and was experiencing Sundowners Syndrome.  Her former power of attorney sadly passed well before her from undisclosed cancer, suggesting that Mrs. Cattaneo was not expected to live beyond her.  Thus, a new attorney in fact was needed.  We received a call from the local Ombudsman to consider coming onboard as her agent for finances and healthcare.

Mrs. Cattaneo was not doing well and had suffered a few falls and several urinary tract infections.  She also had uncontrolled diabetes with an A1C of 9.9%, which was extremely dangerous.  Within just three months and the help of a new general physician, her A1C dropped 3% to 6.9%.  We changed her diet to low mechanical as she experienced a swallowing disorder and arranged for her medicine to be crushed and included in pudding or jello to make it easier to be healthy and living comfortably.

Just recently she had a feeding tube (g-tube) put in and though the skilled nursing facility doctor gave her a mere six months to live, she has been exceeding his expectations four times over.  Her resiliency may be due to her Swiss-German heritage or just not ready to give up.

In the beginning Mrs. Cattaneo was rather isolated but for an in-law, who drove a great distance to visit her.  Now he too is living in a retirement community and not able to visit often.  We have been instrumental in reopening channels with a ladies group she once belonged to and now continues to receive visits and companionship from them, speaking in her native language as her fluency in English wanes.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. DE SANTIS (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mrs. DeSantis was the income beneficiary of an A/B Trust with three cotrustees.  Initially, the trust provided that all trustees had to agree but that wasn’t working.  The court was asked to allow majority vote to rule and it did so.  However, when one of the majority cotrustees died suddenly, the court required a private professional to succeed.

Just after marshaling the assets it was settled amongst the beneficiaries to terminate the trust and end familial relationships.  Our task was to work with several siblings and relatives to obtain approval from local courts to sever the trust and distribute assets.  We also had to petition for approval to divide assets much like you would see in a divorce – surcharging one account for property in lieu of cash and making distributions to the other heirs based upon that value.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. ESPOSITO (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mrs. Esposito lived in her own home, where her adult child was serving as her trustee and also living in the home.  During her lifetime she and her now deceased husband acquired and sold several rental properties but kept three single-family homes beyond her own residence as income and future inheritances.  However, the adult child trustee purchased two multi-unit properties at the height of the housing bubble, along with a high-end luxury sports vehicle a few years before, and receiving an exorbitant monthly income that exceeded the rents coming in.  In credit to a mandated reported, this case was channeled through the public guardian’s office and a sibling found us to serve as successor.

The court investigator was concerned about the second hand smoke dangers to Mrs. Esposito and having the adult child removed for her safety.  Having marshaled the vehicle into secured storage, the adult child accepted an offer to travel away and did not return.  Our job included managing several income properties and bringing them up to code, as the former trustee purchased the units as/is and the ones in the trust were never maintained.

Our involvement produced 100% rental occupancy with rents higher than when we were appointed.  Mrs. Esposito lived another two years and was quite happy with her improved surroundings and was allowed to live in her home until she passed.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. FERRARA (DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY, AHCD)

Mrs. Ferrara suffered a traumatic injury to the whole of her body several years ago, including head trauma making it difficult for her to understand who was interested in her, as a person. The personal injury suit provided for a guaranteed annuity for her lifetime but she did not have any court protection by way of conservatorship or court-supervised trust administration. After several years frustrated with a relative serving as power of attorney, she changed the terms and appointed us to serve.

We were instrumental in advocating changes in her living environment and protection from former undue influence by those interested in her fictional worth (life annuities cannot be bequeathed). We helped obtain and set up a computer and email for her to communicate with distant family members and provided additional spending money for her to enjoy herself whereas in the past she wasn't permitted to.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. GIORDANO (SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST)

Mrs. Giordano had an undisclosed medical condition but was an atypical hoarder of both objects and animals. She lived in an apartment and was well beyond her allotted number of pets, let alone the unmanaged care of said pets. She had a special type of trust that allowed her to collect social benefits while the trust paid for rent and utilities. Unfortunately, the landlord was ready to evict her for cause and the former trustee was unwilling to correct problems. Because the trust was a Special Needs Trust (SNT) and we were not related, the matter became court-supervised.

In managing the account, we discovered that the former exposed Mrs. Giordano to liability in losing benefits because funds were transferred directly to her – an explicit violation of an SNT, let alone the comingling with the former’s name on the same account. We restored the unit to pre-move in condition with new carpet and a monthly service to ensure formerly rampant fleas were terminated. Initially the low balance would have only lasted two years but our management provided for four years of support.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MR. LEONE (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mr. Leone was the remaining beneficiary to a trust his father created, which provided for a certain amount of funds to be expended for his son’s care needs. Though typically a trust will terminate where it doesn’t transfer funds to a person’s own trust, or what should have been a special needs trust, the grantor understood his son’s recidivism prevalence and chose to leave the controls with a relative as trustee. After several years of frustration with Mr. Leone, the family member sought us out to serve as successor trustee.

We were instrumental in prolonging the funds in this small trust account and resist demands from him and his significant other interested in fancy cars over shelter. We were able to help him structure his budget and to know what to expect as the months continued. We also stepped up and negotiated with his landlord to block an eviction due to a misunderstanding and secure housing until he could find more suitable accommodations.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. MONTANARI (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mrs. Montanari’s estate was being mishandled by a relative and mortgages were not being paid even though rental income was being collected.  The county stepped in to protect what assets were left and removed the relative, serving as trustee, for cause.  Every property was severely worn and exhibiting deferred maintenance for at least 20 years. 

Upon accepting this account we quickly learned that the existing liens were held at extraordinary rates (9.9%+) well after the housing bubble.  Since the estate was cash poor, it was not feasible to refinance the properties.  Further, the rental income properties were well under market value for the area.  We increased the rents and liquated one property, netting more than the court-bid amount.  Now the primary rental property is up to code and generates 25% more income, while paying off all encumbrances against the investment property and 75% of the grantor’s home.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MR. NERI (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mr. Neri was embroiled in a family feud by his children over his estate while he was still alive.  Every relative had counsel, including grantors, to attempt to sort out how to best manage a multi-million dollar estate.  The original successor trustee to the relative-trustee(s), a bank, refused to accept the appointment due to extreme challenges it assumed would encompass in the account. Therefore, all parties agreed to accept appointment of a private professional trustee. 

Upon marshaling the estate, we discovered $500,000 in missing shares from stocks split electronically and transferred all paper stocks into proper holding and vesting.  We also protected the trust from back payroll withholding errors by refusing to allow a relative to force the trust to support payroll – which would have required the trust to make good on all former payroll irregularities and approximately $160,000.00 in back taxes, employer paid payroll taxes, and fines.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MR & MRS ORLANDO (TRUSTEE, POA)

Mr. and Mrs. Orlando were in a skilled nursing facility after several falls in their home.  Mr. Orlando also had an auto accident that needed basic settlement.  After accepting the role as trustee, we addressed the situation at their home and moved bookcases from hallways and installed handrails.  Old magazines, periodicals, and bills going back 40 years were properly disposed of.  These changes allowed the grantors easy mobility in their home.  One monumental task was securing and assigning 50 lbs of gold and silver from a personal safe deposit box to one titled to their trust.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. PAGANO (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Ms. Pagano was the beneficiary of a trust meant to provide for her after the trustor's death as she was unable to adequately provide for her own finances and personal care.  Unfortunately, her initial trustee was unresponsive to her needs and failed to properly address her demands for excessive dental reconstruction.  This led to unnecessary waste and gross negligence in administering funds for the beneficiary's long-term support.

Although we would have preferred to complete the medical work the beneficiary desired, we had to decline her preferred procedure and suggest one that was one-third the cost.  The client ultimately chose to skip the cosmetic surgery to allow funds to be used for housing and basic needs.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MRS. RUGGIERO (SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE)

Mrs. Ruggiero met an untimely death after her family believed that the 80 yr old would prefer hospice over surgery for a broken hip.  Upon her departure, the siblings, whom had documented police activity of physical violence, fought over the family home.  In order to avoid additional injury one relative moved away.   

We were instrumental in bringing the home up to code and liquidating it during a time of soft home sales.  Eventually, both siblings received their inheritance but no one person was allowed to claim the home as their own.  At last report, both siblings are doing better having broken ties and the removal of co-ownership, which would have furthered the violence between them. 

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

MS. SORRENTINO (TRUSTEE, POA)

Ms. Sorrentino was a young lady whose terminal illness decimated her body and left her vulnerable to "friends" of less than one year who were so helpful as to draft her will for her and get her to sign it while drugged in a hospital.  Allegedly she also gave her vehicle to her new friend.  When she was aware of what transpired, she immediately contacted an attorney who contacted us.  During the three weeks of suffering she had left, we marshaled her assets and was able to obtain the vehicle in question.

As a lover of animals and nature, Ms. Sorrentino desired cremation and burial at sea.  We took liberty in selecting bio-friendly urn made of mulberry bark.  We created a memorial website for her friends to visit and hear her beautiful music, and we had albums of her written and photographic work assembled for viewing, and later to be delivered to her relatives.

Note that information has been changed to protect our clients' identity.
Any similarity to current or past clients may be coincidental.

Estate or Trust Administration

A trustee will manage investments, keep records, manage assets, prepare court accountings, pay bills (depending on the nature of the trust) medical expenses, charitable gifts, inheritances or other distributions of income and principal. Trustees are not required to exercise all of the powers that they are granted.[2] A trustee can manage any number of trust types, including Charitable, Special Needs Trusts, ILIT, Corporate, and Estate Trusts.

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Conservator / Committee

The term conservatorship is synonymous with elderly guardian but used mostly in the western United States. It is a court-appointed process that can be very expensive as the petitioners and proposed conservatee all must be represented by attorneys, with just a few exceptions for in pro per family members without objections. The reason for the expense is that the proposed conservatee's estate is expected to bear the burden of the court costs in the procedures to appoint.
 

Powers of Attorney

Under common law, a power of attorney becomes ineffective if its grantor dies or becomes "incapacitated," meaning unable to grant such a power, because of physical injury or mental illness, for example, unless the grantor (or principal) specifies that the power of attorney will continue to be effective even if the grantor becomes incapacitated. This type of power of attorney is called "power of attorney with durable provisions" in the United States or "enduring power of attorney" elsewhere. In effect, under a durable power of attorney (DPoA) [1] Read more

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