By: Donna J. Yarborough
A Baby Boomer is a term used to describe people that were born right after World War II and they make up 28% of the population. Baby Boomers are also responsible for over half of consumer spending. As this generation’s age increases, so does their chances of getting diagnosed with dementia. By 2050, 28 million Baby Boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease, which effects a person’s memory, reasoning. and social behavior.
Because the number of Baby Boomers growing older is increasing, so are the cases of financial exploitation. Having practiced in probate litigation for 18 years, I see exploitation of the elderly on a regular basis. The most common fact pattern is that someone’s relative or elder parent starts losing their ability to do some of the activities of daily living such as making meals, driving, paying bills, etc. This leads to the elderly person needing assistance. Usually, an adult child, niece, nephew or caregiver (“exploiter”) starts assisting the elderly person and eventually obtains a power of attorney or adds themselves to the elderly person’s bank account as a signatory, becomes a beneficiary of the elderly person’s Will or becomes the owner of real property, etc.
The exploiter will ingratiate themselves in the elder person’s life and unduly influence the elderly person to make beneficiary designations that the elderly person would not normally have made, or make unnatural bequests in the elderly person’s Will.
By the time the elderly person dies, and their family discovers assets missing, it is usually too late to recover that money. The alternative, if the person has substantial assets and there are some remaining, would be for the family members to file a Will Contest, which could be very costly.
In order to prevent this situation from occurring with your loved ones, you should make sure that whoever in the family has a power of attorney or is an authorized signer on financial accounts, or is the person paying the elderly person’s bills, is transparent with all transactions both financial and medical. You also want to make sure that you have a clear picture of your loved one’s mental capacity and whether they are still capable of making financial and medical decisions. Families need to work together to protect their relatives and parents. If you have a family member that will not disclose information regarding the elderly person’s finances or estate planning documents, it should be a red flag that financial exploitation might be happening to that elderly person.
Ms. Yarborough has over 18 years experience in probate and guardianship litigation. She regularly litigates cases involving complex family relationships and elder financial abuse. She is available to consult with concerned family members regarding suspect estate planning documents and claims of abuse of fiduciary duties.
DONNA J. YARBOROUGH, Shareholder
Donna J. Yarborough has been helping Texas families through complex and trying legal issues for almost two decades all over the State of Texas. Ms. Yarborough is a probate litigation attorney handling mainly contested matters including will contests, trust litigation, guardianship and fiduciary litigation, as well as estate administration. She has extensive experience in guardianship litigation, which involves dealing with incapacitated individuals to protect their health and financial estates, representing applicants as well as defending proposed wards.Learn more about Donna…