September 25, 2007
Class Action Lawsuit Seeks End to Misleading Legal Document
Preparation and Unlicensed Legal Advice by "We the People"
First in Series of Actions to Stop
Growing Industry Targeting Seniors
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A Class Action suit was filed September 20th in Alameda County seeking to put an end to the growing practice of misleading legal document preparation and unlicensed legal advice services that target senior citizens. Stebner & Associates and The Arns Law Firm have filed the first of what promises to be many legal actions hitting back at companies that lure seniors into purchasing "reduced fee legal advice" at document preparation centers. Seniors with estate plans created by document centers can end up with estate nightmares for their spouses and heirs.
The law suit is filed against We the People, a nationwide company that provides document preparation services. The suit alleges the company routinely allows untrained and unlicensed employees to practice law. The key causes of action alleged are: Unauthorized Practice of Law, Assisting in the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Fraud, and Financial Elder Abuse.
The Class Action is filed on behalf of all persons who were 65 or older when they paid for legal advice and purchased a living trust, will, quitclaim deed or other legal document from a "We the People" franchise. The class is estimated to include thousands of seniors. We the People has sixty plus offices throughout California.
"We the People has found a very lucrative niche in the California market convincing seniors they will be provided and receive legal documents and services at a fraction of the price a licensed attorney would charge. Because the charges for the documents are below the amount required to get a Plaintiff into Superior Court, elders have until now been unable to find financial abuse attorneys that would take up their cause. The Class Action is a tool to allow seniors to collectively show the damages they suffered and for the courts to fashion a remedy that will protect others from being damaged in the future." Said Kathryn Stebner, one of the attorneys representing the Plaintiffs.
How Are Seniors Harmed?
"Trust, wills and legal documents leave no room for error. After a senior has died, defective trusts or other legal instruments create a nightmare for the would–be heirs and beneficiaries. When done improperly, an elder�s estate may end up having to be unraveled in Superior Court's Probate Division, which is extremely expensive and a waste of judicial resources," Stebner said.
California has laws to protect its elder citizens from the unauthorized practice of law. Stebner and Associates and The Arns Law Firm are taking on the challenge to use these laws not only to get justice for those seniors who have been wronged, but to protect those who would be harmed in the future if this practice were to go unchallenged.
Kathryn Stebner, Esq.
Attorney for Plaintiffs