Articles Posted in Elder Abuse

7.31.17Here’s another reason to meet with your estate planning attorney face-to-face. An overseas-based scam is targeting the elderly with a website that uses photos and content stolen from real law firm websites.

A website purporting to be an estate planning law firm is the subject of a lawsuit from the Houston Bar Association, which is trying to get the site shut down. According to the Houston Chronicle, the fake firm, which calls itself Walsh & Padilla, is targeting elderly people and offering estate planning services.

In reality, the ABA Journal notes, in its article, “Fake law firm website uses real lawyers' pictures to fleece consumers, bar lawsuit says,” the scheme’s website appears to be operated from South Africa and uses photos of lawyers taken from real law firm websites. The scammers mail letters to elderly people telling them they’ll be getting life insurance proceeds, after they provide their bank account numbers and other financial details. One senior was scammed out of $14,000, the lawsuit says.

4.28.17A federal judge has ruled that a police officer’s uninvited entry into a house to check on the well-being of an adult with dementia, is shielded by qualified immunity. The response to a possible crisis was correct.

Given the number of elder abuse cases, it is encouraging that New York Judge Frank Geraci’s decision, as reported in the New York Law Journal’s article, “Officer's Welfare-Check on Elderly Man Is Shielded by Immunity, Court Says,” supported the actions of Lt. Joseph Buccilli, a police officer with the Orchard Park, NY Police Department.

The judge said the police officer was protected by his good faith actions in responding to an emergency. He had qualified immunity from a suit filed by the owners of the home he entered, in alleged violation of residents' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. The judge went on to say that even if Buccilli's beliefs that his actions were justified in entering the home were based on wrong assumptions, the officer’s actions weren’t so "plainly incompetent" as would qualify as a violation of the resident's Fourth Amendment rights.

9.8.16A cautionary tale ends with a will being declared invalid, firings at the local police station and a lesson in elder abuse.

A wealthy 92 year old woman suffering from dementia left a $2 million estate to a local police sergeant but after three years of legal wrangling, her will was found to be invalid and the police officer and his supervisor were both fired from their positions. In New Hampshire Magazine’s September 2016 issue the article “Navigating Non-Relative Inheritance,” explains how vigilant professionals must be, especially in cases where children or other family members are being disinherited.

Just about all of the inheritances in a typical estate go to family members or to the deceased’s favorite charities. But when an unrelated individual is the beneficiary of a valuable asset or a large sum of money, it can raise questions and perhaps suspicions from those who felt they had a right to the inheritance. The issue may become how to balance the wishes of the testator—by distributing his or her assets as he or she sees fit—with the right of the bequeathed or the beneficiary of the will to accept it without creating a conflict of interest or violating the essential trust.

7.7.16Conferences nationwide mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and explore solutions to a growing concern.

The University of Minnesota recently hosted a large conference focused on what is considered to be the next large national crime wave: elder abuse. Attending the conference were social workers, nursing home workers, lawyers, law enforcers and others who work with seniors considered at risk for elder abuse.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in “Minnesota elder abuse reports increasing” that the conference, hosted by the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, was one of many taking place across the country. The day of awareness was established in 2006 and is intended to raise awareness of financial crimes and other abuses committed against older people.

Nursing homes that give substandard care to residents are the target of new Elder Justice Task Forces intended to move faster in targeting and penalizing certain facilities.

5.27.16The National Review reports in "DOJ Task Forces Target Elder Fraud in Health Care" that teams from several Elder Justice Task Forces deployed by the U.S. Department of Justice will go after heath care providers who commit crimes against residents and patients, most of whom are elderly and vulnerable.

The Elder Justice Task Forces have a goal of coordinated, joint investigations to allow for quicker enforcement actions and prosecutions. These Task Forces combine federal, state, and local resources from law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state adult protective services agencies, long-term care ombudsman programs, U.S. attorneys' offices, state Medicaid fraud control units, and state and local prosecutors' offices.

Decision definitionThe New York State Senate has passed a bill that will make it possible for testimony given by elderly witness to be preserved and used in criminal cases against their abusers, even if the elderly person has passed away or become incapacitated.

WHEC reported in its news article, "Senate passes bill to better protect senior citizens from abuse," that the legislation would allow elderly witnesses who are age 75 or older to be examined conditionally to preserve their testimony for future use.

"We have a responsibility to protect our senior citizens," Gallivan said. "Elder abuse, whether physical, psychological or financial, is on the rise as our senior population continues to grow. This legislation helps ensure those who abuse and exploit the elderly are held accountable and do not go unpunished."

MP900407501One of the biggest reasons not to act when you suspect elder abuse is taking place is simply not knowing what to do. We know who to call for domestic violence or when a child is being abused. But for an elderly neighbor? The same kind of help and the same anonymity is in place – something most of us just don't know.

The Avery (NC) Journal-Times' recent article, "Safe steps when suspecting elder abuse," discusses suggestions from the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services to put your mind at ease. In that state, people are encouraged to contact the local Adult Protective Services (APS), where a trained social worker will visit the neighbor and assess the situation.
Last year the state saw more than 24,000 reports of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, which indicates that many individuals did do something to help their neighbors. But the national statistics say that only 1-in-5 incidents of elder abuse get reported. As a result, many incidents may have gone without any help.

North Carolina's laws require that anyone having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult is in need of protective services must make a report to the local Department of Social Services (DSS) APS unit. DSSs are statutorily mandated to receive information reported and determine if the report satisfies the criteria for evaluation. North Carolina law protects adults with disabilities age 18 and older, but the majority of reports involve those who are 60 years of age and older.

Hands on jail cellEight specific recommendations are now being reviewed by Tennessee state legislators who are responding to the results of a task force that placed a spotlight on a disgraceful problem. A problem that is not limited to any one state.

The Elder Abuse Task Force submitted a final report on its findings to the General Assembly, according to the WJHL News article "Elder Abuse Task Force submits final report, recommendations to Tennessee General Assembly."

This task force was created as part of legislation from Senator Rusty Crowe and Representative Courtney Rogers after a 2013 Community Watchdog investigation into the state's abuse problem.

Stack of law booksThere is a statue of limitation on every civil action in the United States. This refers to a restriction of the number of years from the time an action takes place until it can be prosecuted through the courts. Failure to act in a timely manner cost one family millions of dollars.

For twenty years before her death at the age of 104, copper heiress Huguette Clark lived in a private room at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. When she died in 2011, it appeared that there may not have been any medical reason for her to have been confined to her room.

Her executor filed a lawsuit against the medical center alleging that it had unnecessarily bilked Clark out of millions of dollars due to the confinement and through smarmy friendships. In total, the estate was seeking $95 million from the hospital.

Senior on laptopBy the end of 2015, it is expected that 5.1 million persons age 65 and over will make their homes in California.  Add aging baby-boomers to the state’s current migration patterns and it is entirely likely that the state will be home to more than 8.4 million seniors by 2030.  A recent report by the Senate Select Committee on Aging and Long Term Care, A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care in California adds clarity to what may become a massive fiscal challenge for the state and its senior residents: “Reliance upon our existing patchwork of programs and services to serve our growing aging and disabled population will result in unnecessary expenditures, inequitable access, and irrelevant services.”

California is trying to make progress in improving the services available to its growing senior population, according to an article in The (Crestline CA) Alpenhorn News titled “Legislative protection for seniors”.

California passed AB 1899 last fall, which required any licensee found to have abandoned residents of a residential care facility to be permanently banned from operating facilities in the state. Also, California legislators passed AJR 29 in 2014. This bill asked for the restoration of federal funding for senior nutrition programs that was reduced by federal cuts, as well as to exempt these programs from future budget cuts. The federal government’s reply to this request is stalled.

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