Timothy Kowal, Esq.
April 24, 2020

Financial Elder Abuse

TVA served as "shadow counsel" in a high-profile probate dispute and elder abuse case in Monterey County. With TVA's help, the plaintiffs' attorney proved that the fifth wife of a successful Orange County developer stole in excess of $2 million and used undue and fraud to obtain nine amendments to the developer's trust in less than three years, by which the developer's natural family was disinherited and 100% of the trust was left to the fifth wife and her two adult children by two other men. TVA also obtained an injunction to prevent the fifth wife from depleting what was left of the developer's estate and successfully recovered almost $600,000 that she secretly wired to an offshore account in Liechtenstein in the name of a company she had set up in Nevis, a notorious money laundering location. Finally, TVA convinced the Court to hold the fifth wife in contempt and she was jailed as a result.

Undue Influence/Trust Dispute

Mr. Vogele successfully represented two daughters in a Los Angeles County probate action against their uncle to force an accounting and obtain their rightful share of their grandmother's estate. Without consulting an attorney, their grandmother had transferred most of her estate to a payable on death (POD) account that by law went to their uncle when she died. By assembling several disparate pieces of evidence, including an unsigned handwritten note found in the grandmother's home after she died, Mr. Vogele was able to persuade an arbitrator (the former presiding judge of the LA Probate Court) that their grandmother did not fully understand and therefore could not have intended such a one-sided testamentary distribution. The sisters ultimately obtained a significantly greater share of their grandmother's estate than their uncle originally claimed.

Faithless Fiduciary

TVA represented the long-time friend, caretaker and ranch hand for an elderly rancher in Monterey County who made a $1 million gift to TVA's client, himself in his sixties. The rancher's daughter, acting as successor trustee, refused to honor her father's express wishes, choosing to keep the money for herself. TVA's client was forced to bring suit to enforce the gift. TVA not only managed to enforce the $1 million gift, but also forced the trustee to pay interest on the gift from the date of death to payment, amounting to more than $250,000. The recipient of the gift intends to use the money to attend law school and endow a scholarship in his benefactor's name.

Life Insurance Dispute

Mr. Vogele represented the former wife and son of a deceased Orange County real estate developer in an action to protect and recover the proceeds of the developer's life insurance policies, assigned to her as security for a $5 million marital settlement judgment. Just days before he died, the policies lapsed for non-payment. Mr. Vogele successfully persuaded the life insurance company to reinstate the policies and deposit the money with the Court and then prosecuted an action that resulted in full payment of the client's judgment claim plus the transfer of real property. The total value recovered for the clients was in excess of $7.8 million, including $6.2 million in cash.

"Tom [Vogele] was articulate, informative, and always available during the time we worked with him. I always took comfort knowing that Tom looked out for our interests during a highly contentious and lengthy probate dispute. He managed to get not only what we were owed but more than we ever imagined. I would highly recommend Tom to anyone who needs a truly zealous advocate."

Sylvia B.

Predatory Caregivers

TVA was retained by the family of a 95 year-old man to obtain a conservatorship after they discovered that he had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to two women hired to be his caretakers. The women stole his car, stocks and bonds, gold coins and seemed intent on stealing his home until TVA got an injunction against them. The Court granted the conservatorship and the theft stopped and the Conservatee's health, in decline due to a lack of care, improved markedly and his financial affairs were protected by the professional fiduciary appointed by the Court.

Pro Bono Conservatorship

A 65 year-old security guard at an Irvine office building suffered a debilitating stroke and lay on the floor of his home for three days before he was discovered by a concerned co-worker. Because he had missed three days of work, his employer fired him and cancelled his medical insurance. Several tenants contacted TVA to see what they could do to help the guard obtain the care he needed and to see what financial resources were available to him. One of the tenants, a securities law attorney, volunteered to serve as the guard's conservator and through his tireless efforts, the man was transferred from a group home to a private facility where he received necessary medical treatment and physical therapy. The conservator applied for and obtained VA and SSI benefits and even managed to convince the guard's former employer to pay for a portion of the medical treatment. TVA attorneys handled the matter on a pro bono basis.

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