Elder Financial Abuse Fraud Occurs, When No One’s Watching

Benjamin LongDementia, Elder Financial Abuse, Executor, Fraud, Guardians, IRA, IRS

Benjamin E. Long: Protecting Your Legacy from Financial Abuse

Expertise in Elder Financial Protection: With a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding elder financial abuse, Benjamin E. Long is dedicated to safeguarding the financial well-being of the elderly. His experience in estate planning and probate law positions him as a crucial ally in protecting seniors from financial exploitation, as exemplified by cases like Nice vs. U.S.

Professional Credentials:

  • Juris Doctor from Washburn University School of Law, with a Certificate in Advocacy.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kansas State University.
  • Admitted to the Kansas Bar and U.S. District Court District of Kansas since 2011.

Awards and Recognition:

  • Super Lawyer Rising Star.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award.


Benjamin Long's expertise extends beyond traditional estate planning. He is well-versed in addressing the unique challenges posed by elder financial abuse. His approach combines legal acumen with a compassionate understanding of his clients’ needs, ensuring that their financial assets are well-protected against fraud and misuse.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Bar Association.
  • Kansas Bar Association.
  • Johnson County Bar Association.

Advocacy and Community Involvement:

  • Adjunct faculty member at Washburn Law School.
  • Head coach of the Kansas State University Mock Trial Team.
  • Active participant in local community initiatives focusing on elder care and financial security.


Benjamin believes in a holistic approach to estate planning, recognizing that financial wealth is only a part of what needs protection. He prioritizes understanding his clients’ values and life stories to create tailored solutions that safeguard not just their financial assets, but their legacy as a whole.

Relevance to Elder Financial Abuse and Fraud:

In light of the increasing risks of elder financial abuse, Benjamin E. Long's expertise is particularly relevant. His legal strategies are designed to prevent scenarios like the Nice vs. U.S. case, emphasizing the importance of oversight and proper estate planning to protect against financial exploitation.

Benjamin E. Long - Estate Planning Attorney

The Dangers of Unsupervised Financial Control

“Take, for example, the sad and sordid tax case of Mary Ellen Cranmer Nice vs. United States of America, which would not have existed if an attentive financial advisor hadn't noticed the large IRA distributions that were allegedly stolen right from under a matriarch’s nose.”

The Case of Nice vs. U.S.: A Cautionary Tale

The case of Nice vs. U.S. is a dramatic example of what can happen when there are no professionals involved in an elderly person’s finances and one person has the power to make transactions without supervision. In the article “Tax case reveals possible intrafamily fraud” from Financial Planning, a trusted son allegedly decimated his mother’s IRA and left her estate with $500,000 tax bill.

Chip also filed federal income tax returns for his mother, causing her to execute a fraudulent power of attorney. The federal tax returns treated the IRA distributions as taxable income to Mrs. Nice. She not only lost the money in her IRA but got hit with a whopping tax bill.

In 2014, Mrs. Nice’s daughter Julianne applied for and received a temporary injunction against Chip, removing him from her mother’s home and taking away control of her finances. Chip died in 2015. A court found that Mrs. Nice was not able to manage her own affairs and Mary Ellen was appointed as a guardian. Julianne filed amended tax returns on behalf of her mother, claiming a refund for tax years 2006-07 and 2009-13. The IRS accepted the claim for 2009 but denied the claims for 2006 and 2010-2013. The appeal for 2009 was accepted, but the IRS never responded to the claim for 2007. Julianne appealed the denials, but each appeal was denied.

The Importance of Oversight and Estate Planning

Recovering Mishandled IRA Funds Through Lawsuits

By then, Mrs. Nice had died. Julianne brought a lawsuit against the IRS seeking a refund of $519,502 in federal income taxes plus interest and penalties. The suit contended that because of her brother’s alleged fraudulent acts, Mrs. Nice never received the IRA distributions. Her tax returns for 2011-2014 overstated her actual income, the suit maintained, and she was owed a refund for overpayment. The court did not agree, stating that Julianne failed to show that her mother did not receive the IRA funds and denied the claim.

There are a number of harsh lessons to be learned from this family’s unhappy saga.

When IRA funds are mishandled or misappropriated, it may be possible for the amounts taken to be rolled over to an IRA, if a lawsuit to recover the losses occurs in a timely manner. In 2004, the IRS issued 11 private-letter rulings that allow lawsuit settlements to be rolled over to IRAs. The IRS allowed the rollovers and gave owners 60 days from the receipt of settlement money to complete the rollover.

The Risks of Leaving One Family Member in Charge

Leaving one family member in charge of family wealth with no oversight from anyone else—a trustee, an estate planning attorney, or a financial planner—is a recipe for elder financial abuse. Even if the funds had remained in the IRA, a fiduciary would have kept an eye on the funds and any distributions that seemed out of order.

Estate Planning for Family Asset Protection

One of the goals of an estate plan is to protect the family’s assets, even from members of their own family. An estate plan can be devised to arrange for the care of a loved one, at the same time it protects their financial interests.
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