Elder Financial Abuse in Pittsburgh PA
At Minto Law Group we have over 35 years of experience representing individuals who have been the victim of some form of Elder Financial Abuse. Unfortunately in American society it is not uncommon to find that the holder of a power of attorney, a close relative, friend or neighbor of an elderly person has used their special relationship to gain a financial advantage. These perpetrators use their positions to commit acts that range from outright theft of property and money to guiding the elderly, through fear, manipulation, hard luck stories, misinformation and intimidation to change their estate planning documents (wills, powers of attorney, names on bank accounts, etc.) or transfer significant sums of property and money to their own use.
We have generally found that the perpetrator is someone who knows the elderly person and is trusted by friends and family, as a matter of fact it is usually friends and family who are perpetrating the Elder Financial Abuse. Oftentimes the person who is taking care of the elder person believes that they have a special relationship with the elderly person and they use this relationship to justify using the elderly person’s assets for their own benefit. The phrase that we hear most often is, “Well I was the one who was taking care of (Mom, Dad, Brother, etc.) and they wanted me to be compensated for this work so I, of course, just took the money.” The problem is that there is nothing in writing, other family members know nothing about it as it was done in secret. Oftentimes the person caring for elderly takes all of the assets to the elder’s person’s detriment. This is especially so if those are later needed by the victim to pay for their stay at a long term nursing facility or for other medical expenses.
Elder Financial Abuse has now been called the Crime of 21 st Century. As demonstrated, or as you aware, this undue influence is often very well concealed and the perpetrators are adept at their actions. One of the more common cases involves the helpful neighbor who takes care of an elderly person for several years as the children live an hour or so away. The elderly person tells their family and friends that the kindly neighbor has been very helpful. Often, if the elderly person discovers that they been taken advantage of, they are too humiliated and embarrassed to discuss it with other family members. Then when elderly person dies the family finds out that the will has been changed and the neighbor has been left the entire estate. When confronted by the family the perpetrator almost always uses the same argument, “Well where were you when I was taking
care of your aging mother, you were nowhere to be found. It was I who took care of her and she wanted to take care of me.” You then find out that the will was amended just months before by a local attorney and that your mother was brought to the office by the neighbor.
Sadly other case that we see so often involves the outright theft of assets by the friend or family member who holds the power of attorney for the elderly person. These cases, while the usually remain hidden from those closest to the elder person for some time, are usually the easiest to prove as the perpetrator just simply moves the funds from the elderly person’s financial accounts to their own and, when confronted, usually just confess to the theft.
The common thread running through all of these cases is that we, as a society, place a great deal of importance on respecting the privacy of those we love. This is especially true when it comes to financial and health matters. Those perpetrating Elder Financial Abuse thrive upon these notions and use them to exploit the elderly to their own financial advantage.
At Minto Law we have developed a sophisticated and comprehensive approach to combatingElder Financial Abuse through tactics that range from authoritative confrontation and counseling of the perpetrators to the filing of legal actions to recover lost assets, including, where appropriate, referrals for criminal investigations. In two cases. We are quite adept at tracing and locating lost assets.