Elder financial abuse is often clouded in mystery both before and after an elder's death. It's a crime that's severely under-reported, with some experts constituting that only 5% of cases actually come to the attention of authorities. The damage to our families, local communities and economy is substantial. A MetLife study from 2011 estimated the nationwide damage at nearly $3 billion a year, while other researchers have set the figures several times higher.
Getting to the bottom of the wrong may be difficult - clouded by a wrongdoer's cover-ups, the shame of the victim, isolation and failing memories. That said, it is important to identify the essential factors of elder financial abuse.
Identifying elder financial abuse is nuanced. We start from the very beginning. California jury instructions provide a first look at what it takes to prove a case - what are the legal hurdles to a finding of elder financial abuse? The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act identifies a large number of factors that may support the legal basis for a finding of a violation under the act. The elements to be shown include:
"that an individual (and/or his/her assistant) took/hid/appropriated/obtained/ [or] took the decedent's property; the victim (the decedent) was 65 years of age or older; the taking was for a wrongful use with the intent to defraud or by undue influence; and the decedent was harmed."
The application of these elements to any one case may feel a little loosey-goosey. While it helps to make an effort to provide some order to the principal factors comprising a case, the ultimate test is how the application of the unique case facts to the law substantiate a legal basis for recovery.
If you've uncovered elder financial abuse against a loved one in a trust or estate case, legal action may be necessary. At Hackard Law, we're dedicated to protecting families from predators who exploit the vulnerable. We work throughout California, from Sacramento and Los Angeles to the Bay Area and San Diego. You can call us today at 916-313-3030, and we'll be happy to see how we can help you.