Evaluating your situation
The ability to retain their independence ranks high on the priority list of aging Americans. Few anticipate that their kids might someday cheat them out of their retirement savings. Paula Mixson, a certified guardian and the clerk of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, says that she would caution older adults to consider a child's history of substance abuse, chemical dependency and other addictions (such as compulsive gambling) when settling on a financial caretaker.
Mixson says parents are often hesitant to admit a child might not be up to the task, and parents often feel a child's failing is their own fault and continue to shoulder a filial responsibility for their actions.
"I once had an elderly client tell me that she didn't want anything done about her son, who had pushed her down the stairs, because if he wasn't allowed to live with her, 'It was winter and he'd be living under a bridge,'" says Mixson.
Women frequently targeted
Although anyone can fall victim to elder financial abuse, women are more likely to do so. For biological and demographic reasons, women are targeted more often, says Pamela Teaster, the director of the Graduate Center for Gerontology at the University of Kentucky, and one of the authors of the MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse.
"Women still tend to live seven years longer than their male counterparts," Teaster says.
Planning for the future involves more than simply making a will or crunching the numbers to make sure there's enough income on which to live. It's also a time to plan ahead for the eventuality that someone else will have to take over the checkbook.
Kevin Schwartz, of the California-based law firm Schwartz & Schwartz, says, "Many people still have that feeling of, 'Well, it will never happen to me . . . my children get along great and will take care of me if and when I need it. I certainly have nothing to worry about.'"
Schwartz says that when planning for financial security, one should choose someone who isn't just "good with money," but who is "good with other people's money" as well.
Ideally, these issues should be addressed with an attorney during estate planning, but even seniors with tiny incomes and small estates can fall victim to predatory relatives. For them, the best alternative would be to avoid becoming isolated and ask others outside the family to check on their welfare.
"Don't allow one family member to alienate you from the rest of the family," says Mixson. "If you can't leave your home, then find ways to bring different people into your home. Always realize that elder (financial) abuse can happen to you."
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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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