How to File a Financial Elder Abuse Claim
Financial exploitation was been called the “crime of the 21st century,” and the fact of the matter is that elders are disproportionately targeted. The best way to fight financial elder abuse is to avoid letting it happen in the first place. However, it does happen, and in California, it happens very often. If you, or a loved one, have been a victim you deserve to have an experienced attorney in your corner who will fight tooth and nail for your rights.
At the Law Offices of Nigel Burns a large area of our practice is dedicated to litigating financial elder abuse cases. Our experienced trial attorneys have a proven track record of getting our clients the results that they deserve and a reputation for fighting for our clients’ rights from the moment we take on a new client’s case all the way through the appeals process.
In California, there are numerous laws in place to protect elders’ legal rights. Further, victims of financial abuse have many remedies available to them that are not typically available in civil lawsuits. However, the law only protects those who demand justice. That is why our experienced, aggressive trial attorneys, who know how to navigate the legal system, can make all of the difference in the outcome of your financial elder abuse case.
What is Financial Elder Abuse?
In California, financial elder abuse is broadly defined. Financial abuse occurs when a person or entity takes or keeps an elder’s property for a wrongful use or with the intent to defraud, or assists someone else in doing so. An elder is defined as someone who has reached the age of 65.
Common types of financial elder abuse include:
- Abuse by family members
- Abuse by "new best friends” or romantic partners who come into a person’s life at a later stage and take advantage of them financially
- Changing title on real estate, bank accounts, cars, and other property
- Emptying bank accounts
- Defrauding elders into changing their trusts or wills.
- Power of attorney abuse
Sadly, the most common perpetrators of financial elder abuse are people who are close to their elder victims, such as: family members, financial advisors, attorneys, trusted friends, and romantic partners.
Common signs of financial elder abuse include:
- Isolation: attempts are made by a friend, caregiver, or family-member to isolate an elder, or the elder person suddenly becomes significantly more difficult to get a hold of.
- Frequent checks for cash are written to a caregiver or his or her financial institution.
- An elder’s living conditions are well below his or her financial resources
- Unusual or inappropriate bank account activity is reported.
- Bills go unpaid or are overdue, despite that someone is supposed to be paying them for the elder.
- Large frequent gifts to a caregiver.
- Sudden transfers of title to assets or real estate for no apparent reason.
- Unanticipated changes to trusts and wills
- An elder is reluctant to talk about topics that were at one time routine
The California legislature has passed numerous laws to try to curb the problem of financial elder abuse. Unfortunately, the State does not have the resources to seek out every case of financial elder abuse. Furthermore, criminal prosecutions are relatively rare. Therefore, hiring an attorney who is experienced in civil, family, and probate law, can make a world of difference in the outcome of your case.
Our experienced attorneys have achieved the following results for our clients:
- Frozen bank accounts to immediately stop financial abuse
- Secured temporary and permanent restraining orders to protect elders from their financial abusers
- Obtained judgments both in court and through arbitration rescinding changes in title of real property, essentially putting our clients back in their homes
- Obtained favorable damage awards in court and through arbitration.
- Secured court-awarded attorney’s fees and costs of litigation for our clients
Remedies Specific to Elder Abuse Cases
Under the Welfare and Institutions Code, elders may recover:
- Damages otherwise available under the law
- Unilateral recovery of attorney fees and costs of litigation
- Under California’s Probate Code, a person who takes, conceals or disposes of personal property from an elder or dependent adult will be liable for THREE TIMES the value of the property
- Under California’s Civil Code, courts are given wide discretion to award damages against a person who uses deceptive acts or unfair practices against an elder
- Under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Act, the courts may award up to $250,000 in non-economic damages.
- Under the Federal Elder Justice Act, operators and employees of long-term care facilities are required to report suspected committed crimes.