Five years ago California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act became law. It has provided victims and their families a way to fight back against perpetrators of elder financial abuse in civil court. While the law is a tremendous first step, there is still much work to be done. Newly released data suggests that the reality of elder exploitation isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the threat is growing.
Just this week, the Treasury Department announced that it had recorded a record-breaking 24,454 suspected cases of elder financial abuse, over twice the number from five years prior. Why is elder financial abuse becoming more common? California and the nation are in the midst of a major demographic shift. Everyday[...]
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 wrongd[...]
Unless you’re from Santa Barbara, you may not know the name Huguette Clark. She was the reclusive heiress to a $300 million copper and railroad fortune amassed by her father, W.A. Clark, a former US Senator from Montana who also held the distinction of being the founder of the city of Las Vegas. When Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104, she created by will the Bellosguardo Foundation, whose purpose was to foster the arts by displaying her art collection at her massive $85 million, 23 ½ acre summer home in Santa Barbara.
Clark’s first Will was written when she was 98, and in that document, she left her estate to distant relatives and her private nurse. 42 days later, however, she signed a second Will that disinherited her family mem[...]
The year 2018 has been a busy one for Hackard Law - we've been heavily engaged in California estate and trust battles on behalf of our clients, we continue to fight elder exploitation, and every week we respond to the inquiries of dozens of callers from across the state and the country. They contact us because they've seen our videos, they need help, and maybe they just to be pointed in the right direction.
You learn a lot by talking with lots of different people who come to you with similar stories of estate wrongdoing. You get to see common features across multiple cases, features that fit into fact patterns. This experience enabled me to write my first book, The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse as a call to [...]
The Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) is now available online. The guide is a national web module designed to support enforcement officers in identifying, intervening, and resolving cases of elder abuse.”
“EAGLE funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice and was led by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, host of the National Center on Elder Abuse.”
Given Hackard Law’s efforts in applying elder financial abuse law to civil wrongdoers, this video will pay general attention to EAGLE’s section on Financial Elder Abuse and specific attention to Recognizing Abusers.
EAGLE defines Financial Elder Abuse as “Using an older adult’s money or assets (pension, home, socia[...]
This weekend I was a presenter at San Francisco Assessor Carmen Chu’s Family Wealth Workshop. The title of my presentation was Protecting Against Elder Financial Abuse. I was able to share stories with the community and they in turn shared stories with me. I find this the most gratifying part of these events.
One particular story touched my heart. Details of the story have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. I hope that the spirit of the story stays intact in my telling.
I’ll call him Sam. He is approaching 80. He is retired. He is widowed. He has no children. Other members of his family are also elderly. He shares with me his fear – a fear that he cannot shake. While he has financial assets his ties to his lo[...]
“Just one more thing...”
Do you remember that famous catchphrase from Lieutenant Columbo, played brilliantly by actor Peter Falk? He was one of the most important TV and movie stars of his day, and he inspired a generation of detective shows.
Falk lost an eye at the age of three because of a malignant tumor, and because of that disability, he was rejected from the armed services. He nevertheless joined the US Merchant Marines at the end of World War II and served as a cook and mess boy. He later applied for a job with the CIA but was rejected because he had joined a union while serving in the Merchant Marines. It wasn’t until he was 30 years old that he ultimately decided to pursue a career in acting.
Most people do not know [...]
If you have an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’ll know how important it is to look after their safety. It’s easy to worry. Maybe your parent or grandparent has left the stove on while cooking, unintentionally causing a fire hazard. Maybe they’ve wandered off in the neighborhood, only to be found and returned hours later by a good Samaritan. In the same way, a senior suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or Lewy body dementia is especially vulnerable to elder financial abuse.
Cognitive decline in the elderly affects all areas of their life, and that holds true for financial accounts, estates and trusts. There are unscrupulous predators who jump at the chance to take advantage of the elderly, the confused, the lonely. To mos[...]
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Millions of American families are dealing with its effects on the sufferer and those around him or her. Almost two-thirds of the 5 million plus Americans who have Alzheimer’s are women.
We represent both Alzheimer’s patients and their families in civil litigation against estate wrongdoers. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are responsible for the criminal prosecution of elder abuse and financial exploitation.
Our necessary focus on civil litigation provides us a perspective on the common elements that we see in elder financial abuse cases. This perspective starts with the recognition of how memory loss affects the Alzheimer’s victim.
Early-stage Alzheimer’s [...]
Just yesterday I received a call on my answering machine. Supposedly it came from the IRS. The message started off in a robotic voice,
"This is the IRS. You owe our agency a large sum of funds in back taxes. You must call us at such-and-such a number by tomorrow, or we will issue a warrant for your arrest."
Needless to say, I didn't bother calling the scammers back. I found the message somewhat humorous, but the truth is that millions of Americans receive these bogus calls and emails every week. And while most people will realize they're dealing with an attempted fraud, a small percentage don't realize they're being deceived. It's usually the elderly who fall for this form of scam because of conditions like dementia, Alzheimer's and g[...]