When most journalists, investment and insurance professionals, and attorneys estimate the financial damage our senior citizens suffer from elder financial abuse, they'll point to a familiar figure from MetLife: $2.9 billion in annual losses. That number, taken from MetLife's well-researched 2009 study, might still fall short of a full accounting, though. Reported cases, after all, will compose only a fraction of the massive fraud and exploitation perpetrated against the elderly.
Last Wednesday in the California State Senate, Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Santa Cruz introduced a new bill to make assisted suicide legal in California. Entitled the End of Life Option Act, the bill is designed to legalize assisted suicide in the state of California.
Your broker or financial advisor is someone you should be able to trust, especially if you're a senior citizen. Yet it's an unfortunate reality that financial elder abuse is perpetrated by those in positions of trust, and that's why vetting financial professionals is worth every penny.
When someone hurts our senior citizens, such wrongdoing isn't just an individual matter - it's a flagrant challenge to our whole community. And just as members of families and neighborhoods should look out for each other, so we also trust public servants to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially from the crime of elder abuse.
Elder financial abuse cases go unnoticed far more often than they might ever reach the news, but the story of Geraldine Webber is proving an exception to that rule. Webber, who resided in Portsmouth, NH, and died at age 94 in late 2012, designated an unrelated police officer the main beneficiary of her $2.7 million estate.
A common but often unrecognized danger to senior citizens and their well-being is the pernicious phenomenon of elder financial abuse. Here at Hackard Law, we've observed such wrongdoing over years of managing estate litigation. Depositions over a contested will or trust can suddenly reveal new details pointing to the exploitation of a senior for financial gain by one of the parties in the case.
When investigating cases of financial elder abuse and taking them to court, we know that money is the abuser's primary motivator. With that in mind, all that's left is to establish just how the abuser was able to misappropriate an elder's funds. And needless to say, when money goes missing, it's a strong clue that wrongdoing is afoot.
One of the major issues that estate disputes can hinge on is undue influence. If an ailing elder changes their estate plans in a radical or unexpected manner shortly before, such an action will inevitably bring questions: What was behind the decision to amend the estate or trust? More importantly, who was behind the decision and how might they have influenced it? When the timing and circumstances of altered estate documents stand out even to a casual observer, we have a right to be suspicious.