One of the growing types of “crimes” that often goes unnoticed is elder abuse/fraud. If you have a family member, a family friend, or anyone you know that is older, perhaps lives alone, single and especially if he/she does not have any children, please take the time to check in on them every so often. They are often the more vulnerable to being victims of this crime. I recently was at a meeting with a client and her financial advisor. The advisor told us the story of another client who is elderly and whose caregiver was taking financial advantage of her client. The caregiver was continuing to request more and more additional “funds” from the client. The advisor asked to see her estate planning documents that were 20 years old, and client named two similarly aged people to act on her behalf, and who were not in the position to take care of her financial and medical decisions. The advisor is now working to make sure her client is protected from further financial influence and abuse.
I have also encountered some of these types of stories with my own clients. For example:
(1) 73 year old business man (“Tom”) was diagnosed with dementia for two years. He lived on his own during the two years, but his son was starting to get phone calls about Tom wandering the neighborhood. His son put Tom in independent living at a large residential home for seniors with various types of care. Within a month of moving in, his next door neighbor, a single woman (“Jane”), was befriending him. Jane continued to spend a lot of time with him. After three months, Tom called his son that he wants to marry Jane and get a two bedroom place for them to live in together. Jane went to the effort of writing a letter to the senior living facility that she and Tom were getting married and want to look at other 2 bedroom units. The facility administrator called the son and the red flags were up. Son eventually started a court process called a guardianship to take over Tom’s affairs. I represented Tom, who is a very lovely man. He is an immigrant who came to America and started a company that still exists today. He has a decent amount of assets. Jane on the other hand, did not have much money. At the end of the long guardianship process, son became the guardian, and three months later, Tom and Jane “broke up” and she moved out. I wonder why.
(2) Another client of mine is “Jake”. He and his wife, “Carol,” updated their estate plan with me in 2005. Unfortunately, Carol died in 2007. In 2011, one of their sons (“Joe”), contacted me to let me know that Jake met a woman in the grocery store. Joe said that this woman just started talking to Jake and all of a sudden within a week, she is over at his house with a bag of groceries wanting to make dinner for him. This would have not been a big deal, however, Jake at the time was age 87, and this woman was age 52. So I called Jake to just check in, see how he was doing. He told me about the woman and said she was very nice. He seemed to really enjoy the attention. Once again the facts were similar to the first story in that Jake has a sizeable estate, and the woman was a single mom with a minimal size estate. I recently met with Joe and he told me that the relationship went “sour” after a few months, and she is no longer in the picture. Luckily, Jake was of sound mind and was able to see through her intentions.
As much as I am a romantic at heart and would love to see my clients meet nice people and enjoy the companionship, I am also very protective over my clients so that the intentions of any new relationship is truly for love, and not for finances. If you find yourself in a situation where a loved one is a victim to financial fraud, call an experienced attorney such as the elder law lawyer Rolling Meadows IL locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Bott & Associates LTD for their insight into Elder Abuse Law.