On June 16 my aunt called me to tell me she had cancer, and she wanted to make sure her paperwork. (Trust, Will and end of Life paperwork) was all in order. She said it wasn't confirmed cancer but 3 dr.'s said most likely. Less than a year ago a man named Dave (her x-fiancee from 50 years ago) wrote her a letter and then re-connected with her. On June 28 Dave called first my phone then my husband's to tell us Sally was in ICU and he wanted to be added to the medical POA because he was there (2 hours north) and we were here in the valley. My husband is the Trustee, MPOA, POA and beneficiary in Sally's will and Trust. My husband said that would be a good idea to add Dave.

Dave stayed in semi contact with us for the first few days. My husband told him we were off for a couple days and wanted to go see Sally. Dave said he would let us know what room they were moving her to, but there was talk of moving her to rehab. We didn't hear from Dave for the next couple days. We called repeatedly, leaving voicemails. Dave was in possession of Sally's cell. Early one morning husband's phone rang. It was from Sally's # so he answered immediately. Nobody was there. Called right back, no answer. This went on for a few days. Finally Dave would answer and give a song and dance about Sally. Then he quit answering at all. On July 10 we made it a mission to call 4-5 times per day. No response. On July 27 we got an email via our estranged brother. The email was from Sally best friend from grade school informing us of Sally's passing on JULY 19. She also informed us that Dave had Sally cremated immediately following her death.

He told the funeral home she had no next of kin. On 7/29 my husband drove the 2 hours to Sally's trailer. Dave was there. Kelly had the local police meet there and they made Dave leave. Upon inventory we realized he had taken everything of value. There was no family heirlooms she cherised, no jewelry, the safes were empty and the many filing cabinets (Sally saved every paper) were empty. There was some furniture, and her clothing left. Oh and a brand new paper shredder with a box of Sally's peronal doc (staples cut off) in the living room. Dave got Sally to add him as a 'Signer" on her bank accounts on June 15. On June 27 (the day she went into renal failure) Dave had her at the DMV signing a beneficiary designee for her trailer to him. 2 days before she died he had the maid call and pretend to be Sally and change the life insurance beneficiary to Dave, removing Kelly and myself. We are at a loss.

Her best friend swears Dave helped speed up her death. He cleaned out the bank account, emptied and listed the trailer, and STILL HAS HER ASHES. He did get 10 copies of the death cert. We are having a tough time getting co-operation from law enforcement. They all claim it's not their jurisdiction. I am in the process of filing a civil suit against him. We did stop him from getting the insurance $. He had an 8 day jumpstart on us and all of the account/important contact info. We know Sally would have told me on the 16th if she made any changes to assets, plus she would have known to modify will/trust to reflect changes. Sally was a heavy drinker and had just been prescribed a bunch of new meds., (morphine, adivan, soma, and more). On the intake paper work from the hospital, Sally told them she had a nephew with power of everything. Dave himself told the doctors she had been very confused and hallucinating the past few weeks.

My question is, when I file the civil lawsuit, what or how would I word the crimes/reasons I am seeking relief and how much? All of Sally's friends are willing to testify that all Sally ever talked about was how she wanted me and my husband to get everything. She had no kids and we're closest to her. Dave alienated her friends so nobody saw her except 2 other people and hospice her last few days. The AG here said that as far as the cremation and lies to mortician, no crime was committed. Please advise. TY

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WOW - what a mess! I'm just a lay person with a little experience interacting with the Tennessee justice system over elder issues with my family and some experience interviewing people who really don't want to talk with me as an auditor. The following is what I would do, but please don't take this as any kind of a substitute for a qualified attorney.

The AG's problem is the boyfriend will claim Aunt Sally had a change of heart and/or in exchange for his taking care of her this last year decided to give everything to him in her last days. It's difficult to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" what happened unless there is some concrete (non-subjective) proof. If you could get a recording of the conversation where "Aunt Sally" spoke with the insurance company to change the beneficiary and statements from friends saying the voice wasn't Sally that would be a good start. Even better if the maid make a sworn statement that she made the call upon the boyfriend's direction. As OJ demonstrated, the lesser "ponderous of evidence" or likely standard of a civil suit is much easier to meet.

(1) Retain an attorney as soon as possible and give him/her as much information as you have in writing. Instead of telling him your story during a meeting and hoping he remembers or takes good notes, give him your information in written form. I prepared a one page summary, a narrative story full of details, and a time line for my attorney. Include copies of any documents you have relating to the case (POAs, HIPPA, death certificate, phone records - yours and your aunt's, your aunt's medical records, funeral home records, bank records, list of potential witnesses, etc.),

(2) Go by the bank and DMV ASAP and see if you can find the people who "helped" Aunt Sally make these changes. See if they would to agree to make a statement about whether Aunt Sally came alone or was accompanied by her boyfriend, were the documents already prepared and she just signed, did Aunt Sally or her boyfriend do the talking, and how ill Aunt Sally appeared. Record these interviews with permission so you can play them for your attorney. Please use a professional information gathering demeanor, not an angry relative demeanor so you get more cooperation.

(3) Determine who interacted with Aunt Sally at the hospital/hospice to see what statements they would be willing to make about Aunt Sally's interactions with the boyfriend and what tales he told them.

(4) Did the AG run a background check on the boyfriend? He ticked off all the boxes too fast for this to be a first time con - seems experienced and may have criminal or civil court cases in his history. Your attorney can help determine this. Since he went to high school with your aunt you may be able to find classmates who have some information on what this guy has been doing or where he has been living over the years.

(5) Did your husband or the police take pictures or video on 7/29 when he entered Aunt Sally's home? If not and no significant changes have been made, please do so now. Engaging the video recorder on a smart phone and walking through the structure making sure you scan from floor to ceiling is a good documentation method - captures furniture, wall hangings, collectibles, etc. Open drawers to capture their contents too.

(6) Go through your photos of Aunt Sally and her home and make a list of everything missing. Use photographs to "document" when you can last be sure certain items were still there. Did she ever list items for an insurance policy? Go through the list with your aunt's friends and see when they last saw certain items. Did boyfriend sell at flea market or online?

Prepare for interviews (list of questions) and remain focused on what info you need and the perspective of the person you are asking for help. If possible, make requests in person. Call to schedule appt at interviewee's convenience & offer to buy a coffee/soda at close by coffee/fast food joint. Record when you can.
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Husband can't add a POA your Aunt had to do that.
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You need to consult an attorney. He or she can tell you what you need to do and how to do it.
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