One of the biggest mistakes that many New Yorkers make in their elder law and estate planning matters is placing too much trust in the actions of others to handle things fairly without legal preparation. This common error is understandable, as it is human nature to trust those closest to us, particularly friends and family members. However, the sad reality is that the vast majority of senior financial exploitation, estate feuds, and similar troubling situations are caused by the actions those closest to a senior.
One recent criminal case is a testament to how these matters sometimes shake out. According to a report, an adult woman is facing criminal charges after allegedly taking over $140,000 from her own father in his golden years. Apparently, the senior’s health took a turn, and he was eventually placed into a long-term care facility. At that time his adult daughter was named guardian over his affairs. This position gave her a power of attorney, allowing her access to all of his finances.
Unfortunately, instead of acting prudently to ensure the man’s well-being, the daughter used her new role only to benefit herself. The woman allegedly used her father’s funds inappropriately, spending money at casinos, nail salons, on car leases, and more. She even paid off her own payday loans using her father’s funds. The embezzlement apparently lasted a year and a half before she was stopped in March of this year. For that entire time, none of the man’s nursing home bills were paid. Essentially, the daughter took the money intended for his care and spent it on herself.
Sadly, attorneys working on elder law matters often attest to the fact that family members frequently abuse, neglect, and mistreat those who they are supposed to protect. It is easy to read stories like this and assume that it could never happen in your case. But, those assumptions are what causes so much pain and suffering down the road.
It is well-known that senior financial exploitation is a widespread problem. Most of the focus is on seniors living at home, but others are also at risk. One prosecutor involved with this case explained how “nursing home residents are the most vulnerable and the least likely to detect or report exploitation.”
In many cases it may be prudent to meet with legal professionals to ensure that neutral outside parties have control over financial and healthcare decisions down the road. A few simple preventative steps can remove all doubt and provide peace of mind whatever the future holds.
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