Elder abuse has become a more prominent issue in the United States. As the World War II and Baby Boomer generations age, the American population boasts more senior citizens than ever. These seniors are driving up the demand for estate planning services, healthcare services, assisted living facilities, and in-home care. Unfortunately, reliance on these service providers can also expose a senior citizen to the risk of abuse.
If you believe a loved one was victimized by physical, emotional, or financial elder abuse, contact the skilled elder abuse attorneys at Hackard Law as soon as possible. Their experience can help concerned family members and friends explore all possible options to determine the best method of protecting elderly loved ones.
Elder Abuse in the News
Elder abuse is not limited to seniors of any race, gender, education, or cultural background. The only things the people in this group have in common are their ages, and that they potentially have something to exploit. In most cases, this is money. And the sad reality is that even famous Californians are not immune to elder abuse.
Casey Kasem, the popular host of the long-running radio program American Top 40 for nearly 40 years, became the subject of a bizarre series of allegations before his death in 2014. Kasem's wife allegedly prevented his adult children from seeing or speaking to their father in the years before his death. The BBC reports that Kasem's wife moved him to Washington State before his death without disclosing Kasem's whereabouts to anyone. ABC News reports that her attorney told the court that Kasem was "not in the United States" during this time. When Kasem was found in Washington (suffering from bedsores), his daughter was given the authority to make medical decisions on his behalf.
Kasem died within a month of this court hearing. His wife claimed his body within 72 hours, listing an address in Jerusalem, Israel, on the death certificate. CBS News reports that Kasem's daughter was unable to claim the body and enforce a temporary restraining order that prevented her stepmother from cremating Kasem's remains. According to My News LA, his wife had him buried in an unmarked grave in Norway. His children are now suing their stepmother for Kasem's wrongful death. Kasem's widow, meanwhile, has filed a petition that would grant her more authority over her husband's estate.
The Kasem story is full of shocking allegations and bizarre details. Most estate cases do not rise to this level of incomprehensible conflict. We can, however, learn important lessons from the case.
First, one of the most common conflicts in estate administration occurs between stepfamilies. When a decedent was married more than once, these separate families often find themselves disagreeing about the person's true wishes. Sometimes these disputes are strictly related to a specific piece of property. More often, the families are struggling for control over the estate. Clear estate planning documents and instructions can help reduce this conflict.
In another bizarre case of celebrity elder abuse allegations, Marvel comic book legend Stan Lee now finds himself at battle with his adult daughter, who claims he was the victim elder abuse. This case is especially unusual because Lee is still alive. He vehemently denies the allegations that he is unable to manage his own significant financial assets.
The New York Times reported on some of the bizarre allegations in Lee's case. Allegedly, according to the Times, somebody siphoned millions of dollars from his financial accounts, a former business associate stole his blood to sell to fans, and his daughter has changed his household staff and routines to take control over all contact with her father.
Despite all of this, Lee recently met with a reporter in a mood described as relaxed and enthusiastic. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world," he reportedly chuckled. "Nobody has more freedom." As for his daughter, Lee denied that she is physically or financially abusive, instead describing her as a "great help to me."
Despite this, the reporter still found cause for alarm. Lee's home held valuable art. Works by Picasso, Dali, Lichtenstein, and other famous artists hung alongside "hooks with dusty outlines." Lee explained that "my daughter took a lot of them, and a lot of them have gone elsewhere." The vague answer did little to reduce the reporter's concerns. Nor did Lee's comment that he has "been very careless with money."
The Hollywood Reporter gives another concerning account of interactions between Lee and his daughter's friends. On February 13, Lee notarized a "blistering" document accusing three men of manipulating his daughter to access Lee and his financial assets. Yet only days after signing the declaration, Lee fired the attorney who had helped him prepare it, and the confrontation grew so intense that it required the intervention of the LAPD at Lee's home. Lee later changed his phone number. The report also noted that his daughter's friend Keya Morgan monitors and reads all of Mr. Lee's email. (Morgan claims that she does this at the request of Mr. Lee, because macular degeneration compromises his vision.) All of this raises questions about the freedom of Mr. Lee's communications.
Lee's many fans wish him health and safety in these later years. But his story, too, raises important issues that other family members should understand. Limiting an elderly person's contact to others or access to information is a common sign of elder abuse. Whether the senior citizen appears to consent to it or not, loved ones must monitor the situation and ensure free contact and communication.
Experienced Probate Litigators Can Help Protect Your Loved Ones
Elder abuse hurts Californians of various education levels and cultural backgrounds. Loved ones frequently must step in to hold abusers accountable and protect other innocent victims from harm.
An experienced estate attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid legal challenge to a will, trust, estate, or any other procedure in the probate court. Call (916) 313-3030 from Santa Clara or (213) 357-5200 from Los Angeles (or call us from anywhere in California), or write to us online to schedule your free consultation with one of the estate attorneys at Hackard Law. We focus on elder law litigation and have the experience necessary to protect elderly Californians from financial abuse.