Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.

That someone has used undue influence to pressure an elderly person into changing their will is very difficult to prove, so it is gratifying to see when someone who has done so is made to pay for it.

The battle over control of the Derzon Coins shop in Milwaukee has been going on for nearly a decade. The store’s founder, David Derzon, passed away from brain cancer in 2007. Thereafter, his wife Rebecca Derzon became the sole owner of the store.

She only survived her husband by eight months before dying from an overdose and that is when the fight over control of the store through her estate began. Those eight months turned out to be just long enough for Rebecca Derzon to become the victim of financial elder abuse.

Rebecca’s half-sister, Lori Laatsch, had been estranged from Rebecca for a long time. However, Laatsch got into contact with Rebecca when her husband was ill and caused Rebecca to rewrite her will. Instead of the estate being distributed between several other family members under the old will, the new will left 75% of the estate to Laatsch with the remainder going to one of Laatsch’s friends.

In 2012, a court threw out the new will after finding that Laatsch had used undue influence to get Rebecca to change her will. Laatsch was ordered to pay back $725,000 she had taken from the estate.

Recently, a court ordered Laatsch to pay an additional $1.2 million to the estate to reimburse it for the costs incurred in litigation over her fraudulent actions. The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported this story in “Ex-Derzon Coins operator ordered to pay estate $1.2 million.”

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