The curious case of the homeless millionaire

Colorado’s probate courts have been mired in controversy for years. Two state audits in the last eleven years have found screening and monitoring of guardians and conservators as lacking. There have also been instances of neglect, theft, fraud and a general lack of accountability. Attempts to reform, the system has been moving at a glacial pace.

One person caught up in this mess is homeless millionaire Alan Fantin. That’s right, a homeless millionaire.  Fantin has a net worth in the millions but he has had trouble getting accessing it for years. He has been under a conservatorship that was created thirty years ago after a car accident left him with a severe head injury and partial paralysis.

He owns a house which is mostly paid off. But right now it’s ridden with black mold and there are squatters in the basement who don’t pay rent and won’t leave. And Fantin hasn’t been allowed near the house since he was arrested last month and charged with assaulting his live-in girlfriend. His pre-trial monitoring says he can’t come within one-mile of his alleged victim’s residence, which is also his home, or it it was.

On top of all that he is currently engaged in a legal tussle with the guy who controls his funds, a court-appointed conservator named Scott Christian. Christian was appointed in early 2015. Since then the two have battled constantly over financial matters, ranging from the amount of Fantin’s cable bills to his marijuana use. Christian has described Fantin’s weed smoking as a “substance abuse habit.”

Fantin has had a license to use marijuana for medical purposes since 2001.

In a report in Westword, Fantin says the weed helps him with the seizures he’s bee experiencing since his accident. “When I run out of pot, my seizures are more aggressive and they tend to last longer.”

Westword also reports

…Christian refused to provide any funds for his lodging after he was banned from his house; directed him to use a public defender in his domestic-violence case rather than hire his own attorney; threatened to cut off his phone if he continued to complain; and has been less and less responsive to Fantin’s pleas for help even as his firm’s fees for the conservatorship have steadily increased.

The case offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of probate court, where a professional cadre of attorneys, care managers, estate administrators and others are entrusted with guarding the interests and funds of some of society’s most vulnerable people. In many instances, they may be doing just that, protecting the elderly, the sick, the mentally or physically disabled from unscrupulous relatives or neighbors — and sometimes protecting them from themselves.

It’s a fascinating story which we suggest you read. Homeless Millionaire Alan Fantin Wants His Day in Probate Court


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Funerals for the rich

A crypt beneath New York’s Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is available for $7 million. This isn’t just any crypt, It’s one of the last full-body burial spots in Manhattan and can hold nine caskets and 10 cremated remains. And at least three prominent NYC families have already inquired about it.

Today, funerals are becoming the way for the rich to flaunt their wealth. Along with lavish weddings and over-the-top birthday parties,  funerals have become a way for the rich to flaunt their wealth one last time.

William Villanova, general manager of Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, New York’s “undertaker to the stars.” told “Accounting Today, “Whatever we can do that is legal, lawful and in keeping with the integrity of our profession, we will do.”

CEO Nigel Lymn Rose of the U.K.-based A.W. Lymn funeral home said, custom-made Rolls-Royce Phantom VII hearses and a fleet of 25 matching Rolls-Royce sedans are sought-after internationally.

He also told Accounting Today, “I get inquiries from people who have always driven Rolls-Royce’s and want their final journey to be in a Rolls-Royce.  They “want to make a statement: Ride it in life, ride it in death.”

Accounting Today also told of  the recent funeral of a fashion designer they did not name, where they assembled 120 gospel singers who performed as the casket was carried from the hall. A marching band performed at one service, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall was covered in blue hydrangeas to mirror the deceased’s Hamptons home.

Businessmen and billionaires are often aggressively competitive in life “and that doesn’t end when they think they’re going to die,” said Ted Klontz, a Nashville, Tennessee-based financial psychologist.

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‘Bama probate judge candidate has video response to campaign sign mustache vandal

An attorney running for probate judge in Lawrnce County, Alabama had one of her campaign signs defaced with a mustache. She responded with a humorous Facebook video with her wearing a fake mustache

“Hello Lawrence County, Laura Terry Powell here and I mustache you a question…,” she said, then urged people to register to vote in the June 5 primary.

“All jokes aside, I’m sorry to the Hatton community for this eyesore. “I’m going to attempt to scrub it off today and if that doesn’t work we’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.”

You can view the video here:




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Woman sues herself for damages

A woman is suing herself for negligence after a car crash that killed her husband. The Utah Court of Appeals has ruled that a woman, Barbara Bagley can sue herself in the wrongful death suit. Her insurance company will represent her interests as a defendant in the case.

The lawsuit, called Bagley vs. Bagley derives from a car accident in which she was the driver. She was driving a Range Rover in the Nevada desert when she hit a sagebrush and the Rover flipped the over. Her husband was thrown from the car and later died from his injuries.

CBS News reports that Bagley claims she was negligent for not keeping control of her vehicle and for “failing to maintain a proper lookout” while driving.

John Holcomb, professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, told CBS MoneyWatch the lawsuit is “quirky and also clever.”

“Bagley as the two plaintiffs is really trying to get Bagley’s insurance carrier to pay for Bagley’s negligence,” Holcomb said. “You can see why several states would see such a suit as unjust, as a victory would allow the plaintiff to be rewarded for her own negligence. That raises an ethical question of unjust reward and lack of deservedness.”

The attorneys for Bagley, the driver, said in a motion to dismiss the case

The jury would be asked to determine how much money will fairly compensate Barbara Bagley for the harm she caused herself. The jury will be highly confused. It cannot order a person to compensate herself.

The Appeals Court disagreed and overturned a lower court decision writing

The statute contains “if” and “then” clauses. The “if” clause limits the applicability of the wrongful death statute to times “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another”; that is, someone other than the decedent. Once the “if” clause is satisfied, the “then” clause provides that the decedent’s “heirs, or his personal representatives for the benefit of his heirs, may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death.”

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Victim’s Fit Bit becomes silent witness to her murder

Connecticut police arrested the husband in his wife’s murder when wife’s Fit bit data contradicted the husband story.

According to CNN, in an apparent attempt to establish an alibi, the husband claimed his wife was shot by an intruder at 9:05 am.  Police became suspicious when they retrieved the wife’s Fit bit from her wrist. The Fit bit data revealed that there was movement by the wearer until 10:05 AM. In fact, the party traveled 1,217 feet during that period. The police concluded the time of death was at 10:05 AM or thereafter, not to 9:05, as the husband claimed.

Forensic experts believe that evidence from Fit bits and other electronic devices are reliable and are admissible in a court of law, and will be used more frequently to support or refute live witnesses.

Currently, the husband is awaiting trial. If convicted, this will be the first case where a Fit bit is used to send a murderer “up the river”.

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