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VIATICAL LITIGATION – FOREWORD

Gerry H. Goldsholle, J.D.

Viatical settlements have been around since 1989, yet they are wholly unknown to the vast majority of North Americans and are understood by only a very few. And as history shows, what is not understood is often very dangerous. Closely related to viaticals are life or senior settlements, which are of even more recent vintage, even less known, less understood and potentially far more dangerous.

In their short history viatical and life/ senior settlements have been a magnet for the ethically challenged and the criminal. Why are viatical settlements and life/senior settlements attractive fields for con artists to ply their trade? They are complicated, and poorly understood financial arrangements involving life insurance, which is itself poorly understood. They appeal both to people’s fear and their greed. They involve significant amounts of money. They often involve those who are seriously ill, elderly, and/or financially strapped. They are nearly totally unregulated. The transactions lack the elements of standardization and transparency that exist in nearly every other financial transaction. And the players are nearly totally free from effective regulatory oversight, reporting, or scrutiny that applies to every other area of financial transaction.

Tens of millions of dollars have been lost by life insurance policyholders who were persuaded to sell their policies to third parties for pennies on the dollar. Hundreds of millions of dollars more have been lost by investors who were persuaded to invest their funds in something they were led to believe was guaranteed — other people’s life insurance policies. Although many investors were wholly naive and gullible, the roster of investors includes some who were extraordinarily sophisticated, who let greed take the place of good sense.

This important book collects and explains, for the first time, all the important legal materials in the viatical settlements field. Prepared by one of the most knowledgeable experts on the subject, Gloria Grening Wolk, this book will be an indispensable resource for lawyers, prosecutors, consumer protection officials, regulators, and legislators concerned with viatical settlements.

Wolk has been a courageous crusader in the never-ending battle against financial fraud and abuse in viatical settlements. But in modern America such battles often require private lawyers to act on behalf of the abused and aggrieved, particularly as public officials have limited resources and other priorities. As Charles Dickens once said, “If there were no bad people there would be no good lawyers.” Yet good lawyers need knowledge or their task becomes too daunting, the learning curve too steep.

It is in that spirit that this book makes a major contribution. Wolk has prepared far more than a compendium of raw legal cases. She has included extensive, carefully edited and highly relevant material, including cases, statutes, rulings, motion papers, briefs and valuable commentary. Her insightful comments guide the reader to greater understanding of the material. It not only tells lawyers what the law is or what to do but also how to go about doing it.

Wolk has anticipated each step in the process, from the preparation of a complaint to a defendant’s likely response to the motions and the likely defensive steps an adversary will take in a litigation. The papers and briefs can serve as models, which will enable lawyers, prosecutors, consumer protection officials, regulators, and legislators to immediately adapt the material, saving countless amounts time for themselves and money for their clients. Of course lawyers seeking to help those who have been victimized in viatical settlement scams would be wise to remember what Nietzsche observed, “A book full of brilliance imparts some of it even to its opponents.”

To learn more about the book, click HERE or