WHEATON, Ill. (CN) - The Young America's Foundation, which pushes "a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values," claims estate trustees interfered with its right to $3 million in donations from a dying woman.
The Young America's Foundation (YAF) filed two similar lawsuits in DuPage County Court, one against against The Doris A. Pistole Revocable Living Trust, David Cappello, Mark Capello and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; the other against The Charles F. Appel and Lillian F. Appel Charitable Trust, and the Capellos and Madigan.
The YAF says it sued Madigan as "a necessary party" to both lawsuits.
Here is how YAF, a nonprofit, describes itself in the complaints: "In furtherance of Ronald Reagan's legacy, YAF is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values."
YAF says the Capellos "claim to be" trustees of the two defendant trusts.
YAF says the late Doris Pistole left it $1 million from her Living Trust, and another $2 million from her personal estate. It adds that "Doris was a sophisticated charitable donor."
Pistole was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009. That year she contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized for 16 days. The YAF claims that toward the end of her life she lacked sufficient mental ability to make changes to the trust.
Pistole died in February 2010.
YAF claims that David Cappello made changes to both trusts about 6 weeks before Pistole died, cutting it out of her will. It claims that the changes included adding family members and Cappello as beneficiaries, and changed the donations to percentages of the estates, rather then dollar amounts.
YAF claims, in the Pistole complaint, that David Cappello "assumed for himself the responsibility of mediating all communications and contact between Doris and her attorney, Alice Wood, concerning Doris' estate plan and explaining the effect of changes in the estate plan."
YAF says Mark Cappello was named a successor co-trustee and a beneficiary to the Pistole and Appel trusts, but it claims there is no confirmation that David and Mark Cappello were named as co-trustees in the Appel trust.
"The Trustees were in a position to dominate and control Doris because she was very sick with a terminal disease, because they were handling many of her financial affairs and because they controlled her communications with her attorney," according to the Pistole complaint.
"Upon information and belief, David Cappello was, during this time, in a position to prevent, frustrate, or misrepresent communications between Doris and Alice Wood and thereby prevent execution of amendments to the Living Trust adverse to his personal interest and procure amendments favorable to his interest," the complaint states.
Forty-seven paragraphs later, this complaint adds: "Dave Cappello's February 19, 2010 email to Alice Wood states that Doris 'is confused perhaps' and 'her retention of conversations is not the greatest.' He further states, 'So this is confusing to me, because I'm not sure what changes she really wants.'"
In the Pistole complaint, YAF demands enforcement of charitable pledge agreements to the tune of $2 million; it also alleges undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and breach of fiduciary duty.
It seeks $1 million in the Appel Trust complaint, on similar charges.
It is represented in both complaints by Whitman Brisky, with Mauck & Baker, of Chicago.
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