Imagine you're out driving in an open area on a beautiful, clear day. You can see as far as the tree line on the horizon. Suddenly, off in the field to your right you spot someone in the distance - it's an old man in tattered clothes. He's limping slowly and looks to be in pain; he's suffering. And then, in the sky above, you notice something extraordinary - there's vultures circling, just like in the old cartoons we used to watch. Would you stop and help the old man? Maybe bring him some water and call for medical help? You wouldn't let the vultures swoop down.
The scene I described might seem a bit dramatic, but a similar scenario plays out in our neighborhoods and communities all the time. The "vultures" are wrongdoers who target the elderly for financial exploitation, including even their own family members. They prey on old age, illness, and cognitive decline - conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's. And just like vultures, these financial predators want to pick their victim's bones dry. One of their favorite methods is by abusing power of attorney.
A recent case from across the country caught my attention - an Ohio husband-and-wife couple were indicted on felony charges for allegedly looting the bank account of their 94-year-old uncle. Prosecutors say the two suspects used power of attorney to steal $1 million from the victim, which they spent on shopping sprees, home remodeling, cars, boats, and tickets to sporting events. From 2015 through 2018, law enforcement traced over 3,800 bank transactions that drained the elderly victim's account. By the time they were done, there was only $4.94 left.
Abuse of power of attorney is dangerous because it can so quickly destroy wealth built up over generations and leave elderly victims impoverished, helpless, and emotionally broken. Estate and trust assets can disappear practically overnight. AARP highlights the risk:
"With one signature you [grant] another person the ability to sell your house, empty your bank accounts, and cancel your insurance."
Our elderly loved ones deserve protection and care, not exploitation and neglect. If the vultures are circling, it's time to take action. At Hackard Law we represent clients in significant cases of estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation where the wrongdoer can be held responsible for their violations. If you're dealing with a case of abuse of power of attorney, whether it's in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento, Santa Clara or San Diego, you can call us at 916-313-3030. We'll be glad to see how we can best help you.