Taking on Financial Abuse of Elders in Estate Litigation

Financial Abuse Happens Across the Entire Socioeconomic Spectrum     

Taking financial advantage of the elderly is common. As the number of older, wealthier people increases, along with their lifespans, so does the number of opportunities for financial abuse. One granddaughter had to leap into action after finding out her grandmother had been swindled out her life savings. Mariana, 87, a lady who was financially exploited and swindled by Janet, a lady whom Mariana began to trust. This financial abuse story was written about in a New York Times articles in 2015.

Overtime, Mariana gave over $217,000 to Janet, expecting to be paid back. Fortunately, Mariana’s granddaughter hired legal counsel to protect her grandmother. She worked with attorneys to see to it that a case was made for serious theft. Fortunately, in 2015, Janet was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.           

A more well-known case is that of Brooke Astor, a New York heiress and socialite whose son swindled her out of her fortune. He was convicted of grand theft larceny in 2009.          

 

Financial Abuse of the Elderly is Common but Underreported

However, financial exploitation and abuse are routinely overlooked and unreported. The formal system for complaints and intervention is the circuit court where the elderly person resides.

“There is a sense that this is a family matter and we shouldn’t intrude,” said Edwin L. Walker, a deputy assistant in the federal Administration on Aging, in a recent newspaper article interview. “But we’re talking about a crime.”

In hiring Smith Strong, PLC, you may elect to hold a family member accountable for returning misused funds, while not pursuing criminal action.

Financial exploitation is fraud and thus a crime with civil (monetary) damages, and if elected, criminal punishment. In hiring Smith Strong, PLC, you may elect to hold a family member accountable for returning misused funds, while not pursuing criminal action.

Therefore, anyone who commits it can and should be prosecuted. Last year, 33 states considered taking measures against the illegal or improper use of elder people’s money, property, or assets, in addition to fraud or identity theft targeting the elderly. With this legislation comes an additional push for increased penalties for neglect of the elderly in general. The legislation seeks to make it easier to bring charges and secure convictions for both neglect and financial abuse of the elderly, two issues that often occur together.

Financial abuse remedies may include returning the (1) returning the money, (2) paying attorney fees, and (3) removing them as financial agent over the elderly person.

Smith Strong has experience in representing families of victims who have been defrauded and are seeking justice against appointed agents who have mishandled the financial accounts of the elderly. The firm also has experience in defending against frivolous charges of misconduct made by disgruntled family members who think they deserve more money. Either way, Smith Strong can serve as your advocate in seeking justice. 

 

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg