A Warning About the Probate Industrial Complex

A well-organized crime wave is sweeping across this country, and it is positioned to devastate a generation. With baby-boomers holding one-half of the nation’s wealth, their money, homes, investments, and family treasures, all thought to be destined for loved ones, are in real danger of being swept into the possession and bank accounts of strangers.   Families will be destroyed, life savings plundered, and homes sold out from under the owners with no recourse.

Why? Because in America today, a stranger can legally take control of your finances, remove you from your home, sell your assets, take away your rights including your right to vote, and separate you from your friends and family, despite objections, and profit from the entire horrific ordeal.

What started as a way to protect the vulnerable within the probate court system, has instead developed into a billion-dollar industry spawning the Probate Industrial Complex comprised of profiteers, called fiduciaries, guardians, guardian ad litem, doctors and conservators, who capitalize on unexpected illness, family dysfunction, and/or naivete and use their victims as an ATM. If it had not happened in my family, one of America’s most iconic names, I would have never believed it was true. For almost 14 years we struggled as my stepson, the grandson of Walt Disney, was held hostage to the greed and corruption of the Probate Industrial Complex. Our family was vexatiously attacked by attorneys with no evidence of wrongdoing, nothing short of court condoned terrorism, slander and theft of assets. Our attorneys were punished by the court for zealously fighting for our rights.

Many years and tens of millions of dollars later, our case is over – but the lives I have witnessed left in the wake of destruction waged by these modern-day pirates, pillaging at will, is a cautionary tale, not to be ignored. The pattern and practice, often referred to as “The Playbook”, that these bad actors employ is quick, efficient, and effective at stripping the individual of their rights and separating them from their loved ones and their finances, all done without due process. This is human trafficking and racketeering at its finest.

The New York Times recently reported that the 73 million baby boomers, the oldest turning 80 this year, hold $78.3 trillionof the nation’s $140 trillion in assets. Now consider that because there are no national requirements for reporting how many Americans are in guardianship and conservatorship, or regulations protecting the money under management, the cases of abuse and corruption are well disguised and rarely prosecuted. What could possibly go wrong in this picture? With historically high amounts of wealth held within an aging population with minimal safeguards in place to protect them from being victimized by the Probate Industrial Complex, this situation demands action.

Many American families have a loved one who, due to injury or disease, can’t manage their day-to-day life. This is when folks often look to “professionals” for support. On the surface, all seems well when seeking out legal guidance. That is until it is not, and your world, your life, is no longer yours, visitation with your children and grandchildren is denied, the money you saved, and the home you worked hard to pay off, in hopes of living there until you die, then leaving it to your children, is now in the hands of a stranger. And it is happening all over our country in every probate court.

We may very well witness the largest transfer of wealth in American history, going from private individuals to court appointed actors, not the family members or charities for which it was intended. Congress needs to act, and act quickly to put guardrails in place to prevent such piracy. Courts must be made to follow the laws and uphold the citizens’ Constitutional Rights. No one should be above the law.