I recently came across a book on Amazon entitled The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse by California lawyer, Michael Hackard. It’s just unfortunate anyone even needs to write a book on this stuff, but it’s happening more frequently.
We live in a ruthless “dog eat dog” society with questionable morality. Many parts of our society are corrupt in one way or another and elder financial abuse is a symptom of that overall decay.
I had to deal with it when my beloved aunt (a wealthy boomer) reached the end back in 2011. Some scoundrel like relatives (the ‘wolves’) didn’t like her final wishes and foisted themselves at her bedside (she was blind & had dementia) and used ‘influence’ to get her to sign a ‘revised’ amendment to her trust and will papers, which enriched some in the family and cheated others. A “new” lawyer, solicited by the wolves, was glad to help with it, too.
While this sounds heinous, the current legal system essentially legalizes elder financial abuse by making it so expensive to contest in court. Hundreds of thousands in legal fees just to start a lawsuit.
Elder financial abuse is looked upon as a “business” opportunity for the lawyers involved, either in defending or prosecuting it. Even if you win, there is no real set punitive penalty against the bad actors. And the best witness to testify – the victim – is dead. So good luck!
If you don’t have the money to file suit (and which would likely take years), the ‘wolves’ get away with it. I guess that’s why so many people are doing it – family members, caregivers, nurses, lawyers, etc.
Our society doesn’t seem to respect the elderly much. It’s sad. Elder financial abuse is only going to become more frequent in years to come.
And, be forewarned, it’s usually the ordinary church going types – the ones you least expect – that commit these greedy acts. They will sit there and look at you and proclaim their devout holiness, as they reach around behind your back, hold up grandmas hand and ‘help’ her sign her revised will.
Read this recent article from MarketWatch about one person’s account of elder financial abuse and how they were cheated. It happens every day.