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When should you allow someone else to make your choices?

Many families watch a loved one suffer with the inability to make safe choices or manage finances as he or she ages. In some instances, self-directed revocable living trust with a professional trustee may be valuable in helping someone you love make choices in his or her best interest.

One Washington resident who allegedly struggles with self-advocacy and may lack strong decision-making capabilities was not so lucky. Attorney Jennifer Rydberg was influential in helping this man fight against the reported misallocation of funds by former SeaTac mayor, Michael Siefkes.

Unethical professional’s fall from office

According to news reports, Siefkes specialized in elder law and helped a former Boeing employee’s parents with their estate planning. As a result, he was fully aware of the $1 million inheritance they left to their son.  

Through the victim’s friend’s reports to Adult Protective Services, the state was aware of concerns regarding the client’s ability to protect his or her finances. However, Siefkes allegedly overcharged this former client. The accusations included receiving lavish gifts, including multiple vehicles, borrowing funds which appear to have never been repaid and insisting on cash for payments without presenting any billing statements. In addition to that were the mayor’s manipulative discussions of his own financial woes. 

Rydberg was influential in helping Siefkes’ victim launch an investigation with the Washington State Bar Association. Though a criminal prosecution was not possible, the Washington State Bar Association pursued disciplinary action. As a result, Siefkes gave up his law license and resigned from his mayoral duties.

How a trust may protect a vulnerable adult

The role of a revocable living trust is to protect the assets of someone while they are still living. This also protects the heirs who will inherit the assets. This type of trust is revocable because the trust can be revoked while the person is still alive so long as they are not incapacitated and still able to make decisions for themselves.

Trust are advantageous because they do not have to go through court proceedings to be carried out once the person passes away. The contents or items named in the trust pass directly to the heirs named in the trust, which saves money, frustration of court proceedings and allows the family privacy because contents of the trust are not made public.

How this may apply to your family

If one of your loved ones is aging, and you worry about their mental faculties, you may want to protect them from abusive behavior, similar to how Siefkes treated his client. Such an arrangement could help your loved one manage their finances wisely, with a system of checks and balances in effect.

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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