A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a...Read more
Conviction of Astor's Son Helps Other Financial Elder Abuse Cases
- October 12th, 2009
Advocates for the elderly say the conviction of Anthony D. Marshall on charges of financially abusing his mother, legendary New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor, gives a boost to the prosecution of similar but lower-profile cases around the nation.
Marshall, 85, was convicted of stealing from Astor as her capacity to make decisions deteriorated due to Alzheimer's disease. Astor died in 2007 at age 105. After deliberating for 12 days, a New York City jury found Marshall guilty of 14 of the 16 counts against him, including persuading his mother to make changes to her will that greatly benefited him, and abusing his power of attorney by giving himself a $1 million retroactive raise. Marshall, who might appeal, could be sentence to anywhere from one to 25 years in prison. Francis X. Morrisey Jr., a lawyer who did estate planning work for Astor, was also convicted on multiple counts, including forging Astor's signature on a codicil to her will.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Ron M. Landsman, P.A.
Ron M. Landsman has been practicing elder law since 1983, before it was known as elder law, originally with Landsman and Laster, Washington, D.C., then Landsman, Eakes and Laster, also in Arlington, VA, and since 1990 in his own practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has been among the most active members of the...
Farr Law Firm
In practice since 1987, Fairfax Attorney Evan Farr is widely recognized as one of the leading Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Specials Needs attorneys in Virginia and one of foremost experts in the Country in the field of Medicaid Asset Protection and related Trusts. Evan Farr has been quoted or cited as an expert by n...
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
While the high-profile Astor case involved an estate estimated at more than $180 million, it is similar to thousands of other cases of reported financial abuse. A recent study by MetLife found that up to one million older Americans are targeted by financial abuse yearly, and family members and caregivers are most often the culprits. "We see a lot of cases where the kids help themselves with the intention of paying the money back," New York City ElderLawAnswers member attorney Bernard Krooks told Consumer Reports following the verdict. "It becomes a bad habit."
But law enforcement officials have been reluctant to prosecute such crimes, which can be difficult to prove and complex for juries to comprehend. The success in the Astor case should give district attorneys around the nation more incentive to set up elder abuse units, such as the one in Manhattan that pursued Marshall, and to prosecute such crimes.
Craig Reaves, past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, termed Marshall's conviction on nearly all the charges "a huge victory." Speaking to the New York Times, Reaves noted that the verdict "may be the impetus to get the Elder Justice Act passed by Congress." First introduced six years ago, the Act provides federal money for elder abuse prosecution and is included in the health reform bill about to be voted on by the Senate Finance Committee.
Lori Stiegel, senior attorney at the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, told the Times that a failure to win a conviction in the Astor case "could have been perceived as reinforcing the notion that these cases are just too difficult to bring and that juries will have trouble understanding the issues. . . . It will help prosecutors understand that yes, they can successfully bring these complex and challenging cases -- and this one was extremely complex and challenging."
The Astor case now shifts to a Westchester County (New York) probate court, where a civil case is pending on whether Astor's assets should be distributed according to her most recent will, executed in 2002, or an earlier version. If Astor is found to have been mentally competent when she signed the 2002 will, which was amended in 2003 and 2004, the amount of money she left to New York charities, including the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, would be reduced by tens of millions of dollars. The probate court case had been postponed pending the resolution of the criminal case against Marshall and it is unclear how a possible appeal by Marshall would affect it.For an ElderLawAnswers article on "Tips for Preventing, Detecting, and Reporting Financial Abuse of the Elderly," click here.
Last Modified: 10/12/2009