Is It Easier To Prove Financial Elder Abuse If There Is Physical Abuse As Well?
It is not necessarily easier to prove financial elder abuse if there is physical abuse as well. There are a couple of ways to fight it. We want them to stop the abuse and sometimes we want them to be able to go back and recover the assets that were stolen. Recovering stolen assets is a whole different ball game because that’s really just a civil action. However, there are a couple of different ways we can go about stopping it. Again, since the government, the police, the public guardian and adult protective services don’t stop it, it is almost all instigated by private action. This means that someone who knows that the senior is being taken advantage of needs to step in and make sure that it is stopped.
Who Generally Are The People That Report Such Cases?
Friends and family members of the senior usually report these cases. However, anyone in an official capacity, whether that’s a banker or a physician, has the responsibility to report abuse to adult protective services.
What Sort Of Evidence Is Required To Prove A Financial Elder Abuse Case?
In most cases, the evidence required to prove a financial elder abuse case is missing the money. We are looking for large chunks of money that go to an unrelated third party, or for caregivers or family members who are seen driving a new car or whose names show up on the deed to the house. To really know that it exists, inside information is almost always necessary. This is why these cases very often go undetected. If a senior was giving a perpetrator $5000 a week and had plenty of money in the bank to do so, and if no one in the bank detected it and no one else had access to the senior’s bank account, then it would just go undetected forever. Someone else also has to be aware of it or be on the lookout for that senior.
How Is The Third Party Empowered? Is It In The Form of A Trust Or A Power Of Attorney?
The third party is empowered in a couple of different ways, but it’s really dictated by how the assets are held. It may be a more secure power of attorney. We may end up going to court and seeking a conservatorship or guardianship over the person and having a court supervise all of our conduct. I am a huge advocate of having people who are good security guards look over or watch out for the senior’s assets. That is the only way to make sure that the bad guys can’t get in and steal what the seniors have.
Do You See Financial Elder Abuse Cases Where The Abuse Has Already Taken Place Or Is Ongoing?
We do not often see financial elder abuse cases where the abuse is ongoing, and it’s not often that we get to take preventative measures. I wish it was more frequent, but people don’t buy a security system until after they’ve been robbed. We don’t know there is a problem until there is one, and then we think that we should do something so that it doesn’t happen again.
For instance, late last year we had the opportunity to help this really sweet old lady who lived alone. She had one daughter who lived out of state. The daughter came monthly just to check on her mom, but in the meantime, the old lady had become the new best friend of her electrician. The electrician had taken her to the bank several times, and over the course of three weeks had withdrawn over $50,000, had a key to the house, would come and go as he pleased, ate the food, went through the mail, watched TV and ordered pay per view services.
When I got involved, the daughter had looked at the bank statements for that month and saw that her mom was down $50,000. She saw that cashier’s checks had been made payable to the electrician. She reported it to the police, but we still had to stop the bleeding. We changed the trust, moved the money, retitled the house, re-keyed the house and sent the mom and her daughter on a vacation to just break that chain of contact. We moved where the social security and pension payments went, changed the doctors, and forwarded the mail to a different address.
All of these things were just small steps in this process to separate the senior from the perpetrator. He no longer had access to the senior, couldn’t get her mail anymore, couldn’t get inside the home anymore and couldn’t go to the bank anymore because he didn’t know where anything was. I have no idea whether or not the police were able to recover the $50,000 or prosecute him. I can’t control what the police do; all I can do is put systems in place that protect seniors. We probably do 10 or more of these types of cases in a year.
Recently, this sweet little old lady came in whose husband has a cognitive impairment and has been befriended by a person who has a gambling addiction. The person takes this woman’s husband every week up to the casinos in Reno to gamble. Every week this person is getting money from her husband who doesn’t even realize that he has a cognitive impairment, so he is just giving thousands and thousands of dollars to his new best friend. The husband is actually angry at his wife for trying to get in the way of his having fun. This is wrong. This type of behavior cannot continue, but until someone gets in the middle of it and demands that it be stopped, it will.
For more information on Financial Elder Abuse & Physical Abuse, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (916) 915-8770 today.
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