The documentary Last Will and Embezzlement will fire you up with righteous indignation, as it should. As estate planning attorneys, we know all too well about the horrible betrayal of trust and shocking manipulation that goes on in the lives of many elders. We have seen and heard firsthand what can happen when someone decides to fleece their aging parents or even a complete stranger. That is why we do what we do – protect senior’s assets from predators. We have all heard about Mickey Rooney’s son financially abusing him, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Elder exploitation is the easiest thing in the world for criminals to achieve. It is illegal, but usually safe to pull off and highly profitable. How easy is it to just walk into a nursing home where residents struggle with cognitive difficulties, hand them a document that signs away access to their finances, and walk out holding the keys to the bank? It’s easier than you might think.
This unconscionable theft and manipulation is typically carried out by someone whom the senior knows and trusts. The perpetrator just creeps into the elder’s life and becomes a part of it, building trust, sharing stories, gaining the confidence of their victim – and then – they strike. It may start out as requests for small amounts of money to tide them over.
Over time, the checks get larger and more frequent. One day, there is no more money, and no more happy-go-lucky-relative. The person whom the victim thought was taking care of them is gone with the money. There is no horror greater than someone abusing a senior and leaving them destitute, preying on their vulnerabilities, but it’s on the rise. Why?
Seniors are becoming the prey du jour for a number of reasons. The two major reasons are that the senior population is increasing, as the baby boomer generation ages, and that the family trying to care for them are between a rock and a hard place financially, trying to care for them. The result is often financial elder abuse.
As estate planning attorneys, we are well-positioned to help many individuals avoid abusive situations. It is incumbent upon us to take up that torch and protect seniors, who paved the way for us today.
Watch Last Will and Embezzlement and recommend it to your clients. Pass the word on, it may help someone when you least expect. Watch the YouTube trailer for the show: Last Will and Embezzlement
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555