Sunday, December 21, 2014

Protect older loved ones from theft

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give an older loved one doesn't come with a bow on top. It's your alert, caring eye for signs of possible abuse.

Adult children who worry their parents may be financially exploited by a relative, caregiver or friend can often spot signs when the family gets together for the December holidays. While elder fraud is often committed by relatives of the victim, relatives are also the ones most likely to come to the rescue, suggests Jim Rothrock, commissioner of the Dept. of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

Anne See, a public benefits and elder law paralegal at Blue Ridge Legal Services, says her case load of late bears that out.

Typical financial exploitation cases

Financial exploitation of older adults can involve theft in many forms: income, cash, accounts, assets, or property, See says.

"I had a case with an elderly gentleman who was being cared for by a relative who abandoned him to a nursing home," said the paralegal. "The relative continued to get his checks. It was the man's son who found and brought his father home, and asked us to try to get the money back."

A most common situation See encounters is the misuse of an older person's money by someone who's living with them.

"They have access," she explained. "They're on the bank account. But they use it for themselves rather than the family member."

One of her current cases involves a woman in an assisted living facility whose daughter is taking her mother's income.

"It's sad. The daughter's words to me were, 'My mother never took care of me when I was little, and I need to take care of my child, so I'm going to use the money," See said.

She also finds many older people signing over their homes to children who promise to care for them, and then don't.

Some seniors come to her wanting to change their power of attorney because they've discovered it's being misused. The power of attorney to make our medical or financial decisions when we're no longer capable is a powerful instrument. You must be fully competent to give someone that power, and fully competent to change it, See says.

Unfortunately, the exploitation often occurs when the person has grown less capable. In that case, Blue Ridge Legal Services tries to help concerned family members petition the court to become their loved one's guardian and conservator.

Full Article & Source:
Protect older loved ones from theft

1 comment:

Kay said...

Absolutely right!