Three granddaughters of the Milwaukee industrial magnate Charles Pfister Vogel are filing aprobate litigation suit against a woman they claim defrauded their mother for more than $1 million. The defendant in this case is facing a suit from the trio, one of which hails from Florida. The case is under scrutiny not only from the probate courts, but also by federal investigators and tax officials.

The 15-count lawsuit alleges that the woman defrauded the plaintiff’s mother during her estate planning process, most of which occurred during 2008 and 2009. The suit names the woman, along with her husband, her law office and several other associated businesses.

Lawsuit documents allege that the woman forged documents and signatures in connection with the estate planning process. She is also accused of negligence, forgery, civil conspiracy and racketeering, among other charges. The woman’s attorney said the claim has no basis in fact, despite inquiries into the matter from the FBI and IRS. Those agencies have launched criminal investigations into the matter.

News reports show that the woman began to provide estate planning services for the family in 2009. At age 34, she was relatively inexperienced in such matters, though she was also given a position at the family company that paid $10,000 per month. It is not clear exactly how the woman came to be employed by the prominent Wisconsin family.

Courtroom documents allege that the woman named herself as an agent who could receive power of attorney if the woman became incapacitated, but only if two physicians agreed on the diagnosis. That supposedly never happened. Shortly after the woman’s death, the defendant gained financial and legal control over the company, Eilcar, allegedly transferring money from the company into her own personal accounts. The woman is also accused of purchasing annuities for her clients using forged documents, among other indiscretions.

Care is required when choosing a probate attorney. Consider seeking the services of a qualified and ethical lawyer to prevent such legal matters from altering the intent of your estate plan.

Luis E. Barreto