WisBar News: Sneak Peek: Financial Elder Abuse Anchors March Wisconsin Lawyer:

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    Sneak Peek: Financial Elder Abuse Anchors March Wisconsin Lawyer

    Joe Forward
    Legal Writer

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    This month's issue of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine contains a feature on financial elder abuse in the securities investment context. In addition, estate planners will learn strategies to avoid the pitfalls associated with payable-on-death designations. And one Milwaukee lawyer makes a convincing case for your first pro bono project.

    March 2013 Wisconsin LawyerMarch 11, 2013 – In the March issue of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, available online and in mailboxes soon, Jeffrey Salas says financial elder abuse is reaching “epidemic rates” and explains the rights and remedies of those harmed by broker misconduct.

    “Most investors, knowing little about investing, listen to their brokers and do not realize, until their investment is worthless, that they have been taken,” writes Salas in his article, “Retirement Adrift: Financial Elder Abuse.”

    For instance, remedies are available under Wisconsin law and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for investors who have lost money to misconduct or investment scams. Yet Salas estimates that 90 percent of meritorious claims are never brought.

    “Neither embarrassment nor politeness should discourage individuals from seeking relief if they believe they have been steered to inappropriate investments,” writes Salas, founding partner of Salas Wang LLC in Chicago.

    Speaking of investments, is your estate planning client considering a payable-on-death designation?

    Attorney Teague Devitt has some valuable information for estate planners in his article, “P.O.D.s May Thwart Testators’ Intent: It’s What Mom Wanted.”

    “Estate-planning attorneys are aware of practical challenges posed by the use of probate-avoidance instruments such as P.O.D. designations,” writes Devitt of Clifford & Raihala S.C. in Madison and Soffa & Devitt LLC, Whitewater. “But P.O.D. designations can also present other pitfalls with which attorneys might not be as familiar.”

    For instance, one pitfall is the state’s Dead Man’s statute. “The dead man’s statute ensures that there might be no one at all to testify about what the testator really wanted, or why, if she relied on P.O.D. designations,” Devitt explains.

    Still, while the above issues deal with clients who have money or property – and can pay for legal services – more than half a million state residents face at least one significant legal problem a year and do so without legal assistance, Milwaukee public defender Colleen Ball explains in, “A Passion for Pro Bono: What’s Stopping You?

    Ball won’t “pull at your heartstrings” with inspiring tales of pro bono service, but she does inspire action with compelling arguments on why lawyers should get involved.

    “Open your mind to the possibilities for doing something new, creative, and rewarding in your professional life,” Ball advises before explaining how to overcome the barriers.

    What Else is Inside?

    • 10 Questions” with divorce lawyer and life coach Latrice Milton, who uses her own experience to guide a philosophy on helping clients through divorce.

    • Dean Dietrich’s “Ethics Column” warning for lawyers who charge new clients for time expended on a matter immediately after a free initial consultation.

    • An “On Balance” column from Paula Davis-Laack discussing the components of a healthy work-life balance.

    • The latest malpractice trends in Tom Watson’s “Managing Risk” column.

    • A “Final Thought” from Kelli Thompson, director of the State Public Defender Office, on the promise and 50-year anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright.