Life insurance is such an integral part of the estate planning process, that related litigation should be considered as falling within the ambit of trusts-and-estates litigation.  Which is why this Reuters report covering the latest developments in a mega fraud case involving fraudulent viatical settlement contracts caught my eye.  Here’s an excerpt from the linked-to story:

MIAMI (Reuters) – A Florida doctor pleaded guilty on Wednesday to securities fraud in connection with a life insurance scam that cost 28,000 investors nearly $1 billion, prosecutors said.

Clark Mitchell, the former director of a prominent AIDS clinic who was arrested more than five years ago on insurance fraud charges, agreed to be responsible for restitution of $367 million to investors in Mutual Benefits Corp., a Fort Lauderdale company that sought investors in life insurance policies held by elderly or ill people.

U.S. District Judge Paul Huck accepted a plea agreement and set sentencing for March 7, 2007, prosecutors said. It is one of several civil and criminal cases stemming from the company.

Prosecutors said Mutual Benefits directed an international network of agents who conned people into investing in viatical settlements, which are agreements to buy the life insurance death benefit of a terminally ill or elderly person in return for a lump-sum payment.

For a not-very-favorable summary of how this case has been handled from beginning to end, social worker/financial planner/author Gloria Grening Wolk provides comprehensive commentary and source-document links at Reports on Mutual Benefits Corp.  For the DOJ’s spin on the case, see here.