As an owner of a Home Care Organization serving senior citizens, I hate to see members of our community – and in particular the vulnerable like senior citizens and the disabled being taken advantage and abused.  Unfortunately, you read about cases like this on the Monterey Peninsula on a regular basis.

 

What You Should Know About Senior Abuse
There are, unfortunately, myriad ways that seniors can be abused.  It’s often at the hands of a trusted friend or family member, or even a professional or family caregiver.  I will be exploring all 7 types of abuse over the next several blogs.

The 7 types of elder abuse are: Financial, Physical Abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional or Psychological Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, and Self-neglect. In this second blog on Abuse we will discuss physical abuse.  In the first of this seven-part series, I will do a deep dive into one of the saddest aspects, elder abuse.  There have been stories in the paper (particularly in deep-pocketed areas like Carmel, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, where people have been tricked into signing over millions of dollars and sometimes even their home.

How to Recognize Financial Abuse

  1. Transactional Elder Financial Abuse Indicators
    1. Investments in unsuitable financial products, time shares, or real property;
    2. Inappropriate banking activity such as unusually large checks or withdrawals from automated banking machines;
    3. Signatures on checks that do not resemble the elder’s signature;
    4. Legal documents signed when the elder is physically incapable of writing;
    5. Checks written out to “cash” being negotiated by caregivers;
    6. Checks signed by the senior but filled out by someone else;
    7. A surge of activity in accounts which have been static for years;
    8. Expensive gifts made by the elder;
    9. Checks or credit card transactions made out to direct mail or telemarketing promotions;
    10. Contributions going to newly formed religious or non-profit causes;
    11. Correspondence indicating the elder has won or will soon win a prize; and
    12. Threatening correspondence purporting to be from the IRS or a government agency demanding immediate payment under the threat of being arrested for non-compliance.

 

  1. Possible Legal Document Abuse Indicators
    1. Power of attorney documents signed by the elder when the elder lacks mental capacity;
    2. Will being made when the elder is not mentally competent;
    3. Elder taking his or her name off of property titles;
    4. The elder adding the name of a caregiver onto real property or money accounts in exchange for commitments of continued care, and or affection; and
    5. The elder makes changes to a Will, Trust or Transfer on Death Deed while under the care of another.

 

  1. Life-Style Change Indicators
    1. Lack of amenities, such as personal grooming items or appropriate clothing, when the elder can well afford it;
    2. Under-deployment of the elder’s existing resources that could be spent on housing, personal care, housing and maintenance;
    3. Missing cash, jewelry and personal belongings;
    4. Decline in personal hygiene; and
    5. Isolated from family members, relatives or friends.

 

  1. Personal Relationship Abuse Indicators
    1. Family member interest in “conserving” the money that is being spent for of the elder’s care;
    2. Reluctance or refusal by “responsible party” to spend money on the elder’s care;
    3. New acquaintances or long-lost relatives spending time with the elder and expressing affection for the elder; and
    4. A caregiver with an inappropriate level of interest in the elder’s financial matters.

 

  1. Undue Influence
    1. California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.70(a) defines undue influence generally as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.” California Welfare and Institutions Code sections 15610.70(a)(1)-(4) go on to enumerate factors to be considered. They include:
      1. The victim’s vulnerability, evidence of which may include “incapacity, illness, disability, injury, age, education, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation or dependency, and whether the influencer knew or should have known of the alleged victim’s vulnerability.”
      2. The influencer’s apparent authority, evidence of which may include “status as a fiduciary, family member, care provider, healthcare professional, legal professional, spiritual advisor, expert, or other qualification.”
      3. The influencer’s conduct, evidence of which may include “(a) Controlling necessaries of life, medication, the victim’s interactions with others, access to information, or sleep; (b) Use of affection, intimidation, or coercion; (c) Initiation of changes in personal or property rights, use of haste or secrecy in effecting those changes, effecting changes at inappropriate times and places, and claims of expertise in effecting changes.”
      4. The equity of the challenged result, evidence of which may include “the economic consequences to the victim, any divergence from the victim’s prior intent or course of conduct or dealing, the relationship of the value conveyed to the value of any services or consideration received, or the appropriateness of the change in light of the length and nature of the relationship.”

Warnings to Elders about How to Avoid Financial Abuse When it comes to your finances, deal only with people you have known a long time and with companies or organizations with proven track records. Get everything in writing! Never accept a verbal promise or assurance if money or property is involved. Rarely will you benefit from mistakes or misunderstandings. Don’t sign anything without carefully reading it and never feel pressured to sign before you are absolutely ready to live with your decision. Honor the “three-day rule” by waiting before you finalize any contract.  The longer you wait, the better.  Never be in a rush to get into any kind of “deal”.  Take your time! Remember, it took a lifetime of work and sacrifice to build up your estate and you can lose it all with one stroke of a pen.

Take Care and Stay Healthy
Richard

 

Recommended Posts