Listen to this post

Vulnerable elders too often fall victim to predators who marry them for financial gain. But how should we balance the fundamental right to marry and enjoy companionship with protecting elders from financial abuse?

Attorney Ellen McKissock, a California thought leader on predatory marriage, spoke with me on Trust Me!, the podcast of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association.

Ellen tells the story of the case that sparked her interest in the subject. Thor Tollefson, an elderly man in the San Francisco Bay Area, was preyed upon by an estate planning attorney who entered into a “confidential marriage” with him and sought his assets. Little did the attorney know that Thor’s nieces in Norway, with Ellen’s help, would intervene.

Ellen’s experience with this case motivated her to seek legislative reform. She was an architect and lead proponent of California Assembly Bill 328, which Governor Brown signed in 2019. As described in an earlier post, AB 328 modified the Probate Code to make it more difficult for paid caregivers to take advantage of elders through marriage under suspicious circumstances.

California trusts and estates lawyers also will be interested to hear Ellen’s reflections on her service with TEXCOM, the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section. Applications for TEXCOM are due March 1.

I thank Ellen for joining me and hope you enjoy the podcast. Please subscribe to Trust Me! to receive new podcast episodes as they are released.