Trusts and Estates

Season 2, Episode 1: Predatory Marriage

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Vulnerable elders too often fall victim to predators who marry them for financial gain.  But how should we balance the fundamental right to marry and enjoy companionship with protecting elders from financial abuse?

Our guest Ellen McKissock shares her perspective on predatory marriage, including the case that got her thinking about this subject and her journey towards legislative reform.  Ellen was a lead proponent of California Assembly Bill 328, which Governor Brown signed in 2019.  AB 328 modified the Probate Code to make it more difficult for paid caregivers to take advantage of elders through marriage under suspicious circumstances.

Ellen opens the conversation by reflecting on her years of service with TEXCOM, the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association.  She encourages trusts and estates lawyers to apply to serve on TEXCOM.  (Note: Applications are available on the CLA website and due by March 1.) 

About Our Guest:

Ellen McKissock is a shareholder at the law firm of Hopkins & Carley based in San Jose.  Ellen has been a litigator for almost forty years, with the second half of her career focused on trusts and estates litigation.  She is the immediate past chair of TEXCOM and a Fellow of ACTEC, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.  Ellen works on disputes in the areas of financial elder abuse, trust and will contests, complex accountings, and breaches of fiduciary duty.  She is the author of several articles for Trusts and Estates Quarterly, including “Marrying Into Elder Abuse” and “A New Use for Confidential Marriage: Elder Abuse.”

About Our Host:

Jeffrey Galvin is a partner at Downey Brand LLP based in Sacramento.  He litigates trust and estate disputes around Northern California, representing trustees and beneficiaries.  Many of his cases involve allegations of mental incapacity or undue influence.  Jeff created and edited the blog Trust on Trial, which covers California trust and estate litigation.  Like Ellen, Jeff is a member of TEXCOM. 

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