Pat Kapowich: The Ultimate Silicon Valley Real Estate Agent

When a senior’s properties are in the name of advisers

financial elder abuse pat kapowich's marketwise column Feb 24, 2024

By Pat Kapowich | Marketwise column for the Bay Area News Group and its flagships The Mercury News and East Bay Times

Published: February 24, 2022 

Question: My parents have passed. I moved into their old home. It is in a pricey Silicon Valley neighborhood. The other home is vacant. It needs lots of work. Fortunately, that home is within walking distance of a trending Silicon Valley downtown. Together, the homes are worth many millions.

Unfortunately, my parents put both houses in a special-needs trust. That was a mistake. I am a functional college graduate. My doctor agrees. But my father thought I might be hoodwinked out of my inheritance. Ironically, he was half-right. My parents’ bank became the trustee.

Last year, the bank brought in an attorney and a professional fiduciary. So I hired an attorney. Presently, the properties are in the names of the attorney and the fiduciary. Now they want to sell the houses. The fiduciary insists I sign papers to sell the properties. The fiduciary is disrespectful and argumentative. There are complaints and judgments against this fiduciary. Now my unresponsive attorney is of no help.

My friend said I should reach out to you for help. As a senior who lives alone, any help or guidance you can offer would be appreciated.


Answer: Swindling older adults is a multibillion-dollar American “business.”

There are many types of fraud. On October 6, 2023, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), released a study stating, “An estimated $28.3 billion is lost to elder fraud scams each year.” And “It found that 72% — or more than $20 billion — is taken by individuals who are known to the victims, like family members, friends or advisers.”

Attorneys, as well as professional fiduciaries, must be beyond reproach. They work under governing bodies. You must telephone the proper authorities:

Regarding the professional fiduciary, reach out to the Department of Consumer Affairs at the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau:

Concerning the attorney(s,) contact the Santa Clara County Bar Association. Speak with a Bar representative. Learn about filing a complaint or complaints. Also, investigate which attorney specializes in your situation. Then, hire one to protect your interest. Here is their website:

The former commissioner of the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), Wayne Bell, created a peerless 10-page guideline to reduce real estate fraud in the older adult community titled: “Tips for California Seniors to Avoid ‘Targeted’ Real Estate Frauds, including those involving Home Loans, Rentals, Timeshares, Property Recordings, and Investments Secured by Real Property.”

On Page 7, note point six, underlined in upper and lower case for emphasis, which states: “Never Sign a Real Estate (Including Rental) or Home Loan Agreement that You Do Not Understand or Have Not Read, or Which Contains Blank Spaces.”

View all 10 pages with this DRE link.

All 58 counties in California have Adult Protective Services (APS).

See the excerpt in the Santa Clara County APS webpage:

Protecting Elder and Dependent Adults

The Adult Protective Services (APS) program helps older and dependent adults who are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. APS investigates reports of abuse and provides services to prevent and remedy abuse or neglect.

Reporting Abuse

Anyone may make a report to APS if they think or know older or dependent adult abuse or neglect is happening. APS receives and responds to reports of abuse or neglect of older adults (age 60 or older) and dependent adults (ages 18 to 59 with physical or mental limitations).”

View the Silicon Valley APS webpage here for more information and phone numbers or

Prove your parents were mistaken. Be strong. Act. Time is of the essence. Do not become a statistic.

For Housing Market Data in your area, visit my webpage for trends here. Do you have questions about home buying or selling? Full-service Realtor Pat Kapowich is a Certified Trust and Probate Specialist, Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager and career-long consumer protection advocate. 

He is based in his hometown of Sunnyvale, California. Office: 408-245-7700; Broker# 00979413 [email protected]