Local seniors continue to face financial exploitation, neglect, and abuse at alarmingly high rates. The perpetrators of these acts range from neighbors and caregivers to personal friends and even close family members. For example, the New York Daily News reported this week on a new lawsuit that has been filed by a ninety-two year old woman against her son. It includes allegations of mistreatment that our New York elder law attorneys know occurs throughout our state with surprising frequency.
According to the complaint filed in the suit, the elderly woman is claiming that her fifty-eight year old son changed the locks on the $1 million East Side apartment that she owns and forbid her from using it. The defendant in the suit first moved into the apartment with his mother while his wife was undergoing cancer treatments in 2006. Unfortunately, the cancer treatments did not have the intended effect and the woman died from cancer complications in 2009. Following his wife’s death, the son continued to live in the apartment.
Last year, four years after the son first moved in, the elderly resident faced a series of medical complications herself. As a result she needed to be placed temporarily in a nursing home. The nursing home stay was not permanent but instead meant only to help her receive close care after a hospital stay before being transitioned back into the East Side apartment. According to the lawsuit, while the mother was in the nursing home her son concocted a plan to keep the apartment to himself. The defendant-son had the locks changed, barred her from entry, attempted to get an order of protection against her, and eventually forced her to live with her second son in Maryland.
The lawsuit is seeking to have the son thrown out of the apartment. The mother has been paying taxes and co-op maintenance fees on the apartment throughout this time. Unfortunately, her health continues to be spotty, and she does not have the funds to pay for long-term care. She intends to sell the apartment–valued at between $1-1.6 million–in order to pay for the quality of care that she needs. As her second son explained, “It’s her decision as to what she wants to do with it and when. She’s capable of making those decisions, and that’s what she’s trying to do.”
This case is a similar to situations that each New York City elder law attorney at our firm sees on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, many seniors are forced to engage in battles with those on whom they are supposed to depend in order to retain the ability to manage their own affairs and ensure their financial well-being late in life. One helpful check on this exploitation is having a good relationship with financial advisors who can ensure that one’s assets are respected and not taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.
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