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Fraud re: father's IRA & Investments, etc.

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? I live in NJ but this took place in Calif.

This is a very complicated situation so I apologize in advance for the long posting…

My father was married in1975, but they separated 10 years later. In the early years of their separation there was no intent for divorce, so I (& my siblings) accepted the fact that they would remain married, yet living apart. My father died in 1995. At the time of his death, we only knew what his wife explained to us as the cause of death. She also told us that all he left her was debts to deal with. (Possible, but not probable) My father provided well for his children while he was alive, gifting or spending sums of money on us, as adults, now and then. They lived in California, while we lived in various other states. There was a one page announcement from the CA Newspaper Services stating that she was filing to administer his estate. We assumed that she was going through the legal process of dealing with his debts, vacation home (which had a mortgage), etc. Since we believed they were married, we did not get involved. We stayed in communication with her for years after his death, but the last few years she was having health problems and our communication was less and less. This was also because she said she didn’t have the “energy to talk”, etc.

In late April 2004, we received legal documents regarding her estate. We soon discovered that she had committed suicide in Nov. 2003, leaving the majority of her 3.5 million dollar estate to a (now married) CPA she knew from high school, that she had an affair with while she was married to my dad. He was with her the entire day of her suicide and most probably assisted her. She wanted him to form a non-profit foundation, named after my father for the residue of her estate to receive, leaving him as President. We were never even mentioned in her will.

In short, I ended up in contact with her sister, that I never had the pleasure of meeting while they were alive. She told me that after my father died, she flew out there for a week and found some very questionable things going on. She was in shock and observed, noting what she could, to pass along to his children. She however never was successful at locating us once she returned home. So, I was just finding out these historic facts. She felt that the circumstances regarding his death were not clear. The handling of his body was questionable (to keep this short). She told me that they were NOT MARRIED, they had divorced years earlier. (The County Record Archives did a search for me and found a divorce decree dated 1992) This same CPA friend had helped her rummage through and empty out my father’s condo and deal with his possessions, after his death. The sister gave me an account number, & phone number and said she believed he had a large 401K, among other things. She also says that her sister showed her a different will (more recent) that week, than the one filed with the court.

Since then I have been digging to find out what actually happened. I found that she went to his employer (as his wife) and transferred his 401K Plan worth approx. $200,000 to her name & SS#. His employer turned the account over to the federal court for them to decide who the beneficiary is, in a sense separating it from the probate of her estate. The divorce decree has a marital settlement agreement where she “waived all rights, title, claim, or interest in his pension plan”. He was also awarded “as his sole and separate property; Any and all property currently in Petitioner’s (my father) possession or held in his name without regard to date of acquisition, whether tangible or intangible, of whatever kind or where ever situated including, but not limited to; stocks, partnerships, brokerage accounts, annuities, pensions, profit sharing plans, retirement benefits, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, IRA’s and other investments.” The 401K Plan documents say that if there is no surviving spouse, (she was still listed as the beneficiary) that next in line are his children and then his estate. My lawyer has just filed the Answer to the Complaint in Interpleader. I think we have a good case, but the lawyer for her estate doesn’t care how long he drags this all out, since he gets paid regardless, by her estate.

I have received his list of assets in 1992, from the supporting documents from the divorce. He had many accounts (and earned $13,000/month). She had a few assets (and earned $800/mo). (Her father did give her many stocks over the years and the family home now worth maybe 1.5 million.)

When she probated my father’s will. She told the attorney that my father had practically nothing. A will was filed, very suspicious, I might add, naming her as executor and leaving his vacation home to her. She basically listed no assets during probate. She claimed everything non-probate by leading everyone to believe that she was still his wife and thus, the beneficiary and entitled to his assets in a community property state. Her lawyer told me that he and she had a falling out while he was retained by her because she was controlling, handling everything behind his back and he didn’t like the way she was doing things. They terminated their dealings and she never did pay him for his services. (It also appears to my attorney that she never finished the probate process.)

I have spoken with the LAPD. They are checking into archived records regarding the facts dealing with his death and disposition of his body and fraud on the death certificate. (Which I haven’t even covered in this post, to keep this short.) They said there is no one to prosecute since she is dead, so I don’t know what good it will do. My sisters, brother and I plan to write a book about this whole ordeal, once it is finally over. I have been playing detective calling anyone that they knew hoping that someone will have some evidence that the police could use to officially open a case and investigate my allegations and further suspicions.

The problem is that;
a) Since so much time has passed, there are certain documents that had been destroyed after 7 years.
b) The companies that hold the funds are not permitted to tell me about the history of what they see on the accounts, since I am not the account holder. They recommend me getting court subpoenas. (From her list of assets, the portion that appears to be his is worth about $1 million.)
c) I and my siblings do not have the resources for long court battles. We are lucky to work out a plan with the lawyer representing me on the Interpleader case.

Is there any advice as to how to get the holders of the investment funds to act in our behalf as his heirs, since she committed fraud (and maybe even murder)?



Q: Is there any advice as to how to get the holders of the investment funds to act in our behalf as his heirs, since she committed fraud (and maybe even murder)?

A: They wouldn't help you.


Senior Member
You might be able to set aside the probate court order on the grounds of fraud and perhaps get a equitable trust put in place. Find a good attorney in california.


Junior Member
What about Fiduciary Responsibility?

seniorjudge said:
Q: Is there any advice as to how to get the holders of the investment funds to act in our behalf as his heirs, since she committed fraud (and maybe even murder)?

A: They wouldn't help you.
Her sister keeps mentioning that fiduciaries have responsibities to their account holders, beneficiaries and to follow the laws. The money is still in the accounts. The history is still there, in many instances. If I were to send them the divorce decree that she withheld from them, they would feel no need to rectify the situation?

So, the way to straighten this out is to file a complaint, have the records subpeoned and prove in court the fact that she purposely withheld information for her own gain? My attorney mentioned doing Interpleaders with the other accounts, and handle them nonprobate. None of them are mentioned directly in her will. They are part of the residue of the estate.


Junior Member
equitable trust?

badapple40 said:
You might be able to set aside the probate court order on the grounds of fraud and perhaps get a equitable trust put in place. Find a good attorney in california.
Pardon my ignorance, but what is an equitable trust? :confused:


keorell said:
Pardon my ignorance, but what is an equitable trust? :confused:
It is a type of constructive trust:

Definitions of Constructive trust on the Web:

A trust which a court declares or imposes onto participants of very specific circumstances such as those giving rise to an action for unjust enrichment, and notwithstanding the lack of any willing settlor to declare the trust (contrast with express trusts and resulting trusts).

– A remedial device invoked by courts of equity to obtain legal title from a person who obtained title by fraud or other wrongdoing and force him to convey that title to the one who should have it.

a trust created by a court (regardless of the intent of the parties) to benefit a party that has been wrongfully deprived of its rights


Junior Member
Thanks! I'm going to talk to my lawyer about using that tactic. They have a hearing for the probate of her will coming up on the 25th. I know he is filing a creditor's claim for $20,000 she withdrew from the 401K involved in the Interpleader. I think that was also to delay the probate process, so we have time to figure out exactly what is the best thing to do and keep the funds frozen for the time being.

I really appreciate your advice and any other ideas that I can offer him to help us. This has been very frustrating and I know that the time to act is now.


Similar type situation-
The CPA angle may have something for you, but it is a deep road. I don't know that you can get much mileage from a will challenge perspective- it may not even help you.

Look up “tortious interference” then add:

and see what is out on the web for you.
Remember, you can't sue a dead person.

Don't let time get away from you on this.

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