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Failure To Seek Lawyer’s Advice Can Be Foolish—And Expensive

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MAY 29, 2000 VOLUME 7, NUMBER 48

People often try to solve their legal problems without the help of lawyers. Frequently they accomplish exactly what they want. Sometimes they complicate their own lives unnecessarily and expensively, when a little sound legal advice would have resolved the difficulty easily. Take, for example, the situation Montanan Boyd Broell placed himself in with his family.

Mr. Broell and his common-law wife Lori McIntosh bought the family ranch in Wilsall, Montana, from his grandmother’s estate in 1989. Mr. Broell and Ms. McIntosh had already lived (and helped run the ranch) together for a decade, and both contributed to the purchase of the property. Mr. Broell’s father also donated his share of the estate to his son in order to make the purchase possible.

Within a year of buying the ranch, however, Mr. Broell’s life began to unravel. First he separated from Ms. McIntosh. A short time later he was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to sell. Two years after buying the ranch, Mr. Broell was sentenced to two years in the Montana State Prison. At about the same time, Ms. McIntosh filed for divorce.

Ms. McIntosh and Mr. Broell were concerned that the state might seize the ranch because of the criminal charges, or that the divorce court might order the ranch sold, so they decided to execute a phony mortgage to Mr. Broell’s father Irvin.

The divorce was finalized while Mr. Broell was in prison. The couple agreed on the terms of the divorce, and so the court ordered that the ranch be held in joint ownership until they both wanted it sold. Still convinced that the court might order the property sold anyway, Mr. Broell paid his ex-wife to transfer her interest in the property to his father. Then Mr. Broell and Ms. McIntosh deeded the property to Mr. Broell’s father, but again without actually receiving any money for the “sale.”

All this, apparently, was intended to confuse the criminal authorities and the divorce court, even though there was no indication that either was in any way interested in the property. Mr. Broell’s father stood ready to deed the property back to him when the “danger” had passed. Or at least that was the plan—Mr. Broell’s father unexpectedly died in 1995. He had not, of course, signed any documents memorializing the agreement, or even a will returning the ranch to Mr. Broell.

Now Mr. Broell really did have legal problems. His mother (although estranged from his father for many years) claimed the ranch as her inheritance. Although the Montana courts returned the property to Mr. Broell, (Broell v. Estate of Broell, May 25, 1990) the financial cost and family disharmony could all have been avoided if Mr. Broell had gotten competent legal advice.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.