12/5/2011 11:08 AM ET|
Would your adult kids rip you off?
As the population ages, financial crimes against the elderly are expected to grow. Think it can't happen to you? Experts disagree -- and offer tips to keep safe.
Your grown daughter doesn't pay her bills on time. Your son lives way above his means. You love your kids, but you also worry their irresponsibility toward their own finances means they will be poor caretakers of your finances should you need help as you age. But have you given any thought to the possibility that your children might pilfer your money?
Experts estimate that between 60% and 90% of financial elder abuse is committed by family members. Law-enforcement officers and social workers believe the crime will increase as the population ages, but they are generally ill-equipped to investigate it.
No one knows exactly how many cases of financial elder abuse take place, but experts estimate as many as one out of five cases goes undetected. Many victims don't disclose they've been victimized due to shame and embarrassment or worries about retaliation.
It's also a crime that cuts across social classes: Actor Mickey Rooney went public earlier this year with his own victimization at the hands of a relative, while the high-profile trial of the son of wealthy socialite Brooke Astor encompassed charges of estate tampering and elder abuse.
Running the risk of losing it all
The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, dedicated to the prevention of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities, received a message that exemplifies financial elder abuse:
"My wife and I heard from her sister . . . that their mother confessed their brother has talked Mom and Dad [age(s) 81 (and) generally sound mind] out of there (sic) entire $4 million retirement savings and they have nothing but Social Security left."
The offender is often an adult child who still relies on his or her parents for support. "Research suggests that increased risk of elder financial abuse by adult children is associated with such factors as the perpetrator's unemployment, inability to drive and financial dependence upon the older person," says Winsor Schmidt, a professor of family and geriatric medicine at the University of Louisville.
Who is at risk?
Schmidt says studies indicate an older person may be at greater risk of financial exploitation when the individual has problems completing ordinary yet vital tasks, such as using the telephone or doing housework.
Other conditions that predispose the elderly to financial abuse: dementia and depression. With families scattered in our mobile society, says Schmidt, chances are greater than ever that someone can steal from or mismanage the assets of a parent without his or her siblings finding out.
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I'd like to think my adult kids wouldn't rip me off, but two of them quit paying on student loans they "promised" they would take care of and I got stuck with approx. $15k of debt. Of course they are both doing well and seem to have plenty of fun money. The third is married to a lazy girl who, despite their dire financial situation, refuses to get a job. Consequently, should any of them hit me up for money, the answer will be a definite "NO!" I've worked hard all my life and owe them nothing.
And to those who insinuate that I'm not entitled to the social security I've paid for all my life, I've got news for you - that's MY money. It's not my fault that our crappy government screwed it up.
I knew a guy that ripped his bed ridden mother off all the time.He was a low life piece of chit!He lived with her and never worked a day in his life.His mother had money because his Dad left her plenty when he died in a car wreck some years before.He lived on our block when I was a teen.We use to mock him and call him a scumbag to his face but he couldn't do anything about it.He was a as much a coward as he was a low life.Everyone knew what he was doing.He would actually brag about the fact that he didn't have to work because he would say: "my mom is rich and I don't have to get a job like the rest of you poor losers".I guess he didn't realize that it was actually him that was the mooching loser!After his mom passed away a few years later,he ran out of money,lost the house,and ended up in a shelter.He made his bed, now he had to lie in it!
It's not just children that will rip off their elders, but the elders own siblings often have their fingers in the pot also. My dad and step mom both suffering with dementia were placed in a nursing home, immediately step-mom's brother, we'll call him John, got POA by having her sign the papers (dementia remember) and proceeded to put his name on everything they owned. My brother had lived at their house for a number of years trying to help them and he was thrown out of the house and the house was boarded up and all the gates were padlocked.He didn't even have the opportunity to retreive his belongings.
John then proceeded to cash in our father's life insurance policies. It wasn't a lot, but that's not the point. Then he had the care facility move dad out of the room that he and his wife shared which caused no manner of trouble at the nursing home so we eventually brought dad home to his house, removed the padlocks and boards and dared John to do anything about it. His answer was to have dad barred from seeing his wife. He even called the police on us when she was dying and we took dad there to say goodbye. Imagine the kind of twisted character it takes to have an old man escorted out of his dying wife's room by the cops. Thankfully dad's dementia was such that he could not grasp all that was going on.
Now, here's the biggest rub of all. John was always the nicest person when we would meet or he would come to visit; so helpful and pleasant. It wasn't until his sister could no longer see to her affairs that his true colors came out. It turns out he was harboring ill will due to a business deal gone sour twenty years before. So, in his mind he was due all of her property.
So please, elders, make sure that someone is watching your back. Have an attorney, or if you can't afford one, use a state elder services counselor. And children of elders, you need to pay attention to the family dynamics of your parents too. You have to have "that talk" make sure everything is down on paper, signed and sealed.
I worked for our state Adult Protective Service and this was the predominant issue we investigated. It was heartbreaking to see these older folks who lost everything to their children, and couldn't understand what they had done to their kids to warrant this treatment. One lady said her son was going to get it anyway, so it didn't matter.
They need to be locked away and never see the light of day again.
i've seen it happen way to many times .. it's a shame something isn't done about it . leaches are leaches no matter who they are - family or not .. wait till you die and then see them come out of the woodwork along with a lawyer who ends up with most of it .. it was a great world we lived in 50 years ago .. now all we have is a bunch of --YOU OWE ME'S .. well i owe them nothing !!!
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