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[...]
Elder financial abuse is a scourge that truly affects everyone – the rich and the poor, famous people and ordinary people, brilliant Nobel Prize winners and retired people who’ve never had any formal education.
The reason I draw your attention to cases of celebrity elder financial abuse is because they prove a point -- no one is immune. As Mickey Rooney once famously said before a Congressional Committee, if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone – and it does.
When we study celebrity cases of elder financial abuse, we notice the same patterns that occur in cases that come to us at Hackard Law. The magnitude of financial abuse may be greater, but the lessons are the same. Case in point: Riley B. King, better known as [...]
Just down the street from Scott’s Pharmacy and the Sevier Memorial United Methodist Church, and near a big dusty farm in Ferriday, Louisiana, you’ll find a newly-christened street called Jerry Lee Lewis Avenue, named after the town’s favorite son. Although Lewis is best known for a string of rock and roll hits including “Great Balls of Fire”, in 2017, he became famous for something else: he’s a victim of alleged elder financial abuse.
At 82, he doesn’t perform as often, but he still has a loyal following and is a beloved entertainer. So how does someone go from being an international celebrity and rock and roll legend, to becoming a victim of elder financial abuse?
It turns out that even if you’re not rich and famous, [...]
You’ve certainly heard the old trope from Hollywood mystery movies that ‘The butler did it,’ and over the years that saying has become a cliché. But cliché or not, the saying may have actually been prescient, as it preceded by several decades a famous elder financial abuse case where the butler did do it.
Here is a picture of the billionaire heiress, Doris Duke.
Duke died in 1993 at the age of 81, so maybe you don’t remember who she is, but she was the heiress to the James Duke tobacco fortune, $40 million of which was donated in 1924 to what was then called Trinity College. Today we know it as Duke University, one of the top ranked and most prestigious universities in the world.
James Duke may have left Trinity College $[...]
In most cases of elder financial abuse, we tend to think of the widowed stepmother as a middle-aged woman in her 50’s, or even 60’s, who wages a contentious battle with stepchildren who are usually about the same age. In such instances, children from the first marriage often view the stepmother with derision, and as a gold-digger who married the old man purely for his money. Did she really love him or was she simply preying on a vulnerable elder, knowing that he would likely die soon?
Proving that a stepmother was a conniving schemer can be difficult, and these lawsuits are often adjudicated on the basis of expert testimony and eyewitness accounts. But then there are cases that would appear to be open and shut. Cases such as, for exa[...]
Elderly adults can be especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. That’s why the California superior courts issue restraining orders – to help safeguard seniors from abuse. California residents 65 years and older can request a restraining order for the following reasons:
Mental or emotional abuse
Abandonment or abduction
Deprivation by a caregiver of goods or services you need to avoid harm or suffering
The court has a wide breadth of authority to protect an elder from an abuser or someone threatening abuse. It possesses the power to order a person to:
Not physically abuse, harass, hit, or threaten you
Not contact or go near you, and
You might think that being a billionaire, famous, glamorous, and the richest woman in the world would insulate you from elder financial abuse. Sadly, that turns out not to be true.
Heiress Liliane Bettencourt was born in 1922, the only child of Madeleine and Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal, which would go on to become one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies.
She was intensely private, so we know relatively little of Liliane’s personal life except that she lived in opulence and extravagance. She owned properties in many countries and surrounded herself with treasures, jewels and fine art. In 1950, she married a French politician, Andre Bettencourt, and together they had a daughter.
Andre lived until 2007, but e[...]
Before there was Kim Kardashian, Nicole Richie, and Paris Hilton, in the 1940’s the socialite celebrity who was famous for being famous was Brooke Astor. By the time she died in 2007 at the age of 105, she was best remembered for two things: First, she was a philanthropist of the first order who donated and raised money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and many other important institutions. Speaking of her philanthropy, Brooke once famously said: “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.”
Second, and unfortunately for her legacy of good work, she is also remembered for being the victim of elder financial abuse.
Brooke had only one child in her life, a son named An[...]