COVID-19 exacerbated the problem of elder financial abuse because elders were cut off from friends and family, community centers, and other interactions where people looked out for them. Perpetrators of financial elder abuse capitalized on this drop-off in oversight or checks and balances.
Exploiters, who most often are family members, caregivers, neighbors, or friends, took advantage of their position of trust and confidence for their own benefit. Pre-pandemic estimates suggest that financial elder abuse affected only about 10% of elders. Studies suggest that the number of elder-fraud victims increased by 55% between 2019 and 2020.
Inheritance disputes happen routinely in our courts today. Both before the death of the owner of the property in dispute and post-death as well. Pre-death disputes may take the form of a breach of fiduciary duty case or a guardianship case while post death disputes are often a will or trust contest as well as a breach of fiduciary duty case.
A document (a will, trust, deed, beneficiary designation on an account, gift or other type of “transfer” document) can be set aside or invalidated by our Courts based on several different theories. A few of those theories are as follows:
- The owner did not have the requisite capacity to understand what he/she was doing when the document was signed;
- The owner was unduly influenced or coerced to sign the document;
- The person who received the benefit of the transfer document was in a position of trust and confidence to the owner;
- Somebody misrepresented something about the document or some other fact that led to the signing of the document
If you feel that you or a loved one have experienced financial elder abuse, our estate, trust, and fiduciary litigation team is available to help.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-adult-women-beside-each-other-3768114/