Reasons You Need to Listen Closely to Elders in Financial Elder Abuse Cases
Respect for elders is a basic foundation of many cultures and religions. Its neglect or absence is traumatic and disheartening to both societies and families.
No doubt, aging brains bring many challenges to elders, their families, and caregivers.
Responding to the challenges can be awkward. Functional decline, dementia, and depression can make communication difficult. They can also make abuse, neglect and financial exploitation more likely.
I share these thoughts from experience in representing elders and their families who’ve suffered financial elder abuse. Sometimes it’s too late for us to do something about it. Sometimes we catch it just in time.
Whether the wrongful act is done, in process, or not yet started, we need to listen to what the elder is saying and not saying. The essence of the wrongdoing might well be wrapped in a long story.
The story might begin with long-ago events that seem unrelated to the present. It could be the story of grief from the absence of a long dead spouse. Or, a story of misplaced trust in a particular person.
It is hard to relay a story of betrayal – of loneliness. It may sound disoriented – disconnected. The elder may express bewilderment as to what he or she owned or transferred. The elder may be oblivious to the legal effects of real property transfers.
Understanding that an elder’s story might be muddled is part of the necessary discernment in finding out what happened. I’ve seen several cases where an elder has transferred a home to a trusted relative under some false pretense given by the wrongdoer.
- A sister says she needs the home in her name for a few days to help keep her husband from deportation.
- A daughter says she needs the home in her name in order to take out a loan.
- A son goes on title for the offered purpose of preserving his father’s assets from a creditor.
This is why we need to listen. And, more often than not, seek out the documents that support the elder’s story. In so many cases, we listen and then we look for supporting evidence. We see the deed that transfers title to the wrongdoer.
Sometimes the elder can’t believe that the transfer actually occurred. They think that it must be a mistake. It’s usually a friend or the elder’s child who helps the elder to see the truth. In some cases, when the elder is mentally incompetent, we can work to have a guardian ad litem appointed to protect his or her interests.
So, let’s return to basics. Respect our elders. Listen. Have patience. Do unto them as we would have others do to us in the same circumstances.
We listen to many stories every month. There are some weeks when we receive more than 30 new calls or inquiries about new cases. And, we help where we can.
Hackard Law takes significant cases where we think that we can make a substantial difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing. Our geographic focus includes the Superior Courts, Probate and Civil, in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties.
If you would like us to hear your story, call us at Hackard Law 916-313-3030. We’ll wait to hear from you.