Our aunt, the late Honorable Judge Betty Lou Lamoreaux, who was the first female Superior Court judge in Orange County, was a victim of probate abuse. You would think that a judge – who an 84 million dollar justice center was named after – would be protected by her own. Betty Lou Lamoreaux had a rock-solid trust that she created when she was a young vital attorney. In Judge Lamoreaux’s trust, she assigned three of her nephews as successor trustees and health agents. Sadly, our aunt was also a victim of elder abuse by a convicted felon who, two years earlier, had wedged his way into our family.
On the advice of a family friend attorney, we filed a petition for conservatorship to protect her estate, trust, and especially her well-being. As a result, we learned that the Orange County Probate Court almost never grants conservatorship to family members. Therefore, a court-appointed attorney, who had never met our aunt who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 3 years earlier, took her into a private meeting and got her to sign a document assigning a complete stranger as her conservator. Along with trying to push the family out of taking care of their loved one, the court appointed attorney aggressively started filing several petitions to remove the successor trustees that our aunt had chosen: her beloved nephews. This attorney had no jurisdiction to do this but continued, and, as a result of his actions, cost our aunt’s trust over $600,000.