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Trust Salesmen Alleged To Have Pushed Seniors Into Annuities

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JULY 14, 2003 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2

Philip Klein thought he was getting estate planning advice. At first he probably didn’t realize he was also talking to an insurance agent. His children ended up suing the agent, the insurance company and the “estate planning services” firm employing the agent.

Mr. Klein was 85 years old when he met with Brian Causey, an agent for American Estate Services Inc. (also operating as Advanced Legal Systems, Inc.). Mr. Causey prepared a living trust, a will, a living will and a power of attorney for Mr. Klein. Mr. Causey was not a lawyer; as it turned out, he was an insurance salesman.

Mr. Causey persuaded Mr. Klein that he should liquidate his substantial stock holdings and invest in annuities with American Life and Casualty Company. In all, Mr. Klein ended up liquidating $840,000 in stock to buy the insurance products.

At the beginning of the next year, Mr. Klein received a tax surprise. Because his stock had appreciated in value, he had a $38,000 federal income tax bill to pay. It was at this point that Mr. Klein’s two children even became aware that their father had completely changed his investment holdings.

Mr. Klein died a little more than two years later. While going through his papers, his children learned the full extent of Mr. Causey’s abilities as a salesman. Not only had most of their father’s assets been liquidated to buy annuities, they included substantial penalties for withdrawals and, according to an attorney who reviewed them, were not good estate planning for Mr. Klein at the time.

Mr. Klein’s children sued Mr. Causey, American Estate Services, Addison Insurance Marketing (the insurance firm Mr. Causey worked for), and American Life & Casualty Company. They argued that the defendants had put their own interests—in high commissions and fees—ahead of Mr. Klein’s needs.

At first the Louisiana courts refused to allow Mr. Klein’s children to assert their claims, ruling that they should have acted within one year of first learning about the annuities. The Louisiana Court of Appeal, however, reversed that decision and permitted the case to go forward. Klein v. American Life & Casualty Company, June 27, 2003.

As it turns out some of the defendants in the Klein case are well known across the country. Advanced Legal Systems and Addison Insurance Marketing or related individuals have been the subject of enforcement actions in at least Oregon (in 2001), Indiana (in 1999) and Kansas (in 2001). The Oregon Attorney General has provided a description online of how the companies pressure seniors into buying trusts and annuities. Fellow elder law attorney and friend Tim Takacs (from Tennessee) reported on how an attorney from Kansas got into trouble with the Bar disciplinary board of that state for dealing with Addison Insurance Marketing and a related organization, ALMS.

[After this article appeared in 2003, Addison Insurance Marketing apparently continued to operate–and to get in trouble–in more states. The company and affiliates Gentry Group and American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company were the subjects of a “cease and desist” order from the California Department of Corporations in 2004.]

Note: there is another, unrelated Advanced Legal Systems, Inc., a perfectly legitimate Portland, Oregon, company that provides web services to lawyers.

One Response

  1. My mother was duped by an ajent here in Louisiana back in 1996 for this company by the name Jerry Tanner. Eventually her initial investment became zero. She was seventy four at the time.

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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.

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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.