A Lawyer's Work: Dying Woman Signs Over Mansion

Family of woman who left mansion behind: 'Friends' at bedside were crooks.

ByABC News
November 2, 2009, 10:23 AM

Nov. 4, 2009 — -- It's a problem as old as old age, and one that touches almost all of us: How do you take care of your parent or grandparent and keep them safe?

Near the end of her 88 years, Mary Ellen Bendtsen, a fading celebrity whose landmark mansion had been a jewel of Dallas real estate, put her trust in two younger friends she called "the boys."

The men, Mark McCay and Justin Burgess, brought a fourth party to the relationship: their lawyer.

Attorney Edwin Olsen took Bendtsen on as a client. At the end of her life, he helped her grant power of attorney to McCay and Burgess and sign a will making them beneficiaries.

Her family says "the boys'" relationship with Bendtsen was all designed to get her share of the almost $1 million home. The men, meanwhile, say that they were simply honoring their dying friend's wishes.

Read Part 1 of "Mary Ellen's Mansion" HERE.

After Bendtsen's death, a grand jury would weigh in on the case, indicting Olsen, McCay and Burgess for attempted theft.

Central to the court case may be videos the trio made of an aged, ailing Bendtsen signing legal documents under Olsen's supervision.

Olsen insisted there was no conflict of interest. "My representation of Mr. McCay and Mr. Burgess was unrelated to Mary Ellen's representation," he told ABC, explaining that he represented McCay and Burgess in unrelated litigation matters.

But Olsen had few other clients. In a 2008 deposition, he admitted he had been fired from a series of law firms, and that he supported himself with help from his mother -- along with odd jobs at Barnes & Noble, the Container Store and Goody Goody Liquor.