There are definitely advantages to all the perks of fame and fortune that come with being a celebrity. However, aging celebrities are just as vulnerable as regular people, when it comes to elder financial abuse. The major difference is that their stories are reported in the news.
Recent news stories about both the late legendary Marvel comic book creator Stan Lee and ‘60s psychedelic artist Peter Max are sad reminders that elder abuse can happen to anyone, no matter how famous or talented they are. There are a few striking similarities in what happened to Peter Max and Stan Lee, as reported by Next Avenue in the article “Stan Lee and Peter Max: What to Learn From Their Elder Abuse Cases.”
Both of these highly creative and successful men were taken advantage of by people who they trusted and who they were close to. In Stan Lee’s case, Keya Morgan, his former business partner and caretaker, was arrested for elder abuse, false imprisonment and grand theft of an elder dependent adult. The family says Lee was isolated from the family and then moved out of his home. There is now a restraining order against Morgan.
The New York Times recently published a chilling story that Max’s estranged son Adam virtually kidnapped him as he increasingly became incapacitated. Max’s second wife Mary had to fight for the right to bring him back home. However, Adam alleged that she tried to hire a hit man to damage the artist’s painting hand, and household employees accused her of neglecting her husband. Mary Max died of what is thought to have been suicide in New York City in June.
In recent years, the article said that Max was alleged to have been exploited by his family and associates, who had him signing canvases that others had painted in his trademark style. These bogus paintings were then sold at auctions as if they were his original artwork.
Elder abuse occurs to one in 10 adults over 60, according to the National Council on Aging, and 60% of elder abuse is perpetrated by family members. About two-thirds of those perpetrators are adult children or spouses. One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial elder abuse. That’s the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another. Here are three preventive measures:
- Don’t let your parent be isolated. Seniors who are mostly alone can become vulnerable to a “gateway” caregiver. That’s a person claiming to be looking out for the person, but instead they may get a power of attorney and transfer that person’s property and financial assets into his or her own name. Help fight this, by having your parent spend time with friends and family.
- Help your parent with proper legal documents for her financial assets. This will ensure that the senior’s assets don’t fall into the wrong hands. Ask an estate planning attorney about a will, a living trust and a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows a trusted agent to manage your parent’s finances, if he or she can’t.
- Be more in touch with siblings than ever before. Elderly people need their children, nieces, nephews and any family member who is involved in their lives to be their eyes and ears in watching for elder abuse. The more connected a senior is with family and friends, the more people who can protect them. The family members also need to be willing to report any instances of suspected elder abuse to the correct authorities.
Reference: Next Avenue (June 14, 2019) “Stan Lee and Peter Max: What to Learn From Their Elder Abuse Cases”