Managing Member

Managing Member Quoted in NY Times

In an article posted in the Real Estate section of the New York Times on June 28, 2013 and written by Constance Rosenblum titled “Mom and Dad, Let’s Talk Real Estate,” Managing Member, AnnMarie Palermo-Smits was quoted discussing what it’s like dealing with elder fraud up close and personal. Read a section of the article below.

Beware of Fraud

A world in which people are living longer offers greater opportunity for what is called elder fraud, and such fraud easily spills over into real estate decisions.

AnnMarie Palermo-Smits, a lawyer who specializes in estate planning, has seen elder fraud up close. She recalls the case of a client, a once-famous and still striking ballerina in her mid-70s. “She looked like a former dancer,” Ms. Palermo-Smits said. “She was slim and she wore only black.”

The woman had lived for decades in a white-glove condominium in the East 60’s, in a balconied apartment worth $850,000. Her husband had died, there were no children, and she was alone but for a sibling on Long Island.

“The trouble began when a woman in the building befriended her, tried to buy her apartment for well below what it was worth, and somehow became the co-executor of her will,” said Ms. Palermo-Smits, who is the chairwoman of the tax, trusts and estates department of Wells, Jaworski & Liebman, a firm in Paramus, N.J. “But once the contract was drawn up, we discovered that the so-called friend had serious legal problems. We also discovered that this ‘friend’ had tried to do the same thing with other people in the building.

“You try to do everything right, but how do you prevent people like this from charging down the wrong path?” Ms. Palermo-Smits said. “My client was vulnerable because she was old, lonely and pretty much alone.”

Her advice? “Always get independent legal counsel. Beware of outside influences. Most of all, beware of newfound friends.”

Article originally published in the New York Times Real Estate section on June 28, 2013.

Written by Constance Rosenblum. Click here to read the entire article.