Difficult San Bernardino Probate Successfully Concluded
DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.
“You have a tissue in one hand and a pen in the other. I was angry and hurt. I didn’t know who to trust. I had never been confronted with such a whopping amount of shady characters or all the pigeons that come around that want you to feed them. They had taken advantage of my mother so who’s to say they won’t take advantage of me?”
Imagine getting the news that your mother was not doing well and then discovering it was much worse than you thought. Sean Walsh was in New Zealand on a work-study visa when word came that his mother’s condition had worsened. He immediately returned to the United States where a short time later his mother passed away. But prior to her death, Sean’s mother shared that the daughter of her housekeeper had stolen nearly $85,000 in fraudulent checks, leaving her with not enough money to pay her mortgage or medical expenses. Charges were filed and the case was in the process of litigation when she passed away.
As if the responsibility of handling his mother’s affairs wasn’t enough, Sean soon discovered his mother’s probate attorney had not been watching out for her best interests. “I read through the paperwork and didn’t understand much, but what I did understand was that he was a probate attorney who had neglected to put my mom’s house into a living trust. He charged her fees to write up all these documents, and put his name on the documents next to mine as the Executor of the Estate, entitling him to collect executors fees that my mom had intended for me. All of my mother’s wishes, that her account would be in my name, were null and void. It was an absolute nightmare.”
Matters continued to get worse. “I am a pretty easy going person. I lead a simple life. But I think I had my fists clenched at both sides. In this attorney’s shadiness he was trying to get some of his friends involved to represent another facet of my mom’s estate, to milk my mother’s account and get the housekeeper. He was trying to get me spread out on a bunch of different fronts so I wasn’t paying attention to things too closely.”
Several months into the process and with little faith left in attorneys, Sean met Scott Grossman. “When I first stepped into his office I fell apart,” said Sean. “I’m sure I cried. I just needed help. There was something about Scott. He was very patient and understanding.”
Sean’s support continued with Lisa. “She was an awesome, nice lady. She had a great beside manner. I know Scott and Lisa had to be frustrated with me sometimes. I wasn’t very organized and obviously had never done anything like this before. But they were patient with me.”
But issues with Sean’s first attorney continued. “He was a charming character. I went out to the Escondido Country Club for our meeting where he was gracious enough to take a break from his golf game. The next time we met was in a parking lot on his way back from the Escondido Country Club. I knew he was charging me every time I spoke with him. With Scott – sometimes I just needed a name or something. It was a quick call and it was done.”
Finally his attorney was asked to step down. “I know he was trying to take advantage of me. I could smell it on him. He was already looking to make money off of my mom’s house and her estate. I asked him how much I owed him once and he yelled at me. I told him, ‘You’re out. You are out!’ He was a horrible person. We had to ask him to step down or we would turn him into the State Bar. Scott did that for me. I didn’t have the guts or the knowhow to do something like that.”
Sean’s problems continued when his sister hired an attorney and threatened to sue. “There was only my mom and my sister and her two kids. Then my sister hired an attorney. I swear I did everything in my power to be fair. But then her attorney got involved. I just wanted to split it down the middle.”
Not having his mother’s home in a trust proved to be another added burden. “Because my mom’s house had not been put into her living trust, we had to go through probate for the sale. I couldn’t sell it myself because you had to be part of the Big Bear Real Estate Guild. I couldn’t rent it because it was a gated community and the Neighborhood Association would not allow it. And there were repairs that had to be done. Then the economy took a dump.”
After several years, the stolen money had not yet been recovered. “As we got closer to the end of probate the money that was stolen from my mom had not been recovered. I asked Scott to level with me, ‘Can I get this lady? Can I do this? Can I get that money or am I going to spend $125,000 going after $85,000 I will never see?’ He told me, ‘You can do whatever you want but after all you’ve been through, it might be a good idea for you to get on with your life and move on.’
Ultimately if he would have said to go after her I would have. He could have said let’s spend another year or two and taken my money, but he didn’t. I will never forget that and will always remember him for that.”
In the end The Grossman Law Firm was able to help Sean procure the resignation of his mother’s probate attorney, recovered everything he was entitled to (including the executor’s fees), cleared the path for the sale of his mother’s home and helped him avoid litigation with his sister.
“In some ways they were therapeutic,” said Sean. “Scott and Lisa are awesome people. I cannot say enough good things about them. After going through 4 attorneys, 3 accountants, trying to sell my mother’s house and then my sister hiring an attorney and threatening to sue – it was all very emotional.”
“I will do all that I can for Scott. At the end of the day, after I have worked with him this long, I would absolutely, absolutely go back and work with him again. In fact he is going to help me with my living trust. This whole nightmare lasted three years. But I feel like my circumstances are not unique. It seems Scott is well equipped to handle any situation. I would refer my friends to Scott as well and hope what I have experienced could help them. If they had to go through anything like I’ve had to go through, I would suggest they call Scott Grossman.”