Elder law touches the life of every senior. It governs what rights and benefits a senior is entitled to from the government, protections from financial and physical abuse, and ensuring respect for life-planning decisions. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders, California and federal law provides protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica, LLP brings a depth of experience to elder law issues. We’ve represented senior citizens and their families in a variety of contexts, and we’ve worked in the courts, the legislature, and in the community representing elders and their interests.
Past Elder Law Work Includes:
- Representing clients against bank malfeasance
- Fighting for elders who have unwittingly lost control of finances to abusers
- Working to expand Medi-Cal spousal impoverishment protections to same-sex couples
Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica LLP is committed to protecting the rights, needs, and dignity of the aging population. To this end, Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica, LLP offers competent, sensitive elder law representation in the following areas:
- Estate Planning
- Asset Protection
- Special Needs Trusts
- Medicare and Medicaid Benefits
- Social Security and Retirement Benefits
- Elder Abuse, including defense against illegitimate claims of elder abuse.
If you are an elder or someone with questions or concerns regarding the potential abuse of an elderly person, please contact our office.
Elder Financial Abuse
Elder financial abuse occurs when an individual or entity exploits an elderly individual by preying on the elder’s age-related vulnerabilities, such as impaired mental capacity or emotional dependence.
Elder financial abuse is typically committed by a person the elder knows and trusts, such as a family member, friend, caregiver, banker, or nursing home employee. The abuser commonly manipulates the elder into prematurely selling his or her assets, giving the abuser the elder’s money and assets either through gifts or supporting them, or changing the elder’s estate plan to leave the elder’s estate to the abuser. Those with such bad ntentions also often withhold the elder’s money for daily necessities and/or alienate the elder from his family and loved ones, thereby making the elder dependent upon the abuser.
Elder financial abuse may also be committed by businesses and organizations. An example of this form of abuse is a financial institution that targets and intentionally sells financial products to elders, which are unnecessary and often financially detrimental or devastating.
While elder financial abuse is egregious and abhorrent, it can be difficult to discover. Indeed, elder financial abuse often goes unnoticed, because the abused elder either may not realize that he or she has been victimized or he or she may be too afraid and/or embarrassed to admit that he or she has been victimized. The following are potential signs of financial elder abuse:
- Increased, uncharacteristic withdrawals from the elder’s financial accounts;
- Increased, uncharacteristic use of the elder’s credit card;
- Changes to the designated beneficiaries on the elder’s accounts, particularly to include either a caregiver or new “friend” of the elder;
- Authorization of new signors or authorized users on the elder’s financial accounts;
- Adding a caregiver or new “friend” to the title of the elder’s properties and/or vehicles;
- Recent changes to the elder’s power of attorney, health care documents, will, and/or trust, especially if the documents were changed to include the elder’s caregiver or new “friend”;
- The elder is increasingly introverted and or depressed;
- The elder is less willing to discuss matters he or she once discussed regularly and without hesitation;
- The elder’s caregiver or new “friend” restricts the elder’s access to family, friends, and social activities;
- The elder’s caregiver is overly interested in the elder’s finances or estate planning; and
- The elder allows a caregiver or new “friend” to speak on his or her behalf and to handle the elder’s financial affairs.
While there are an increasing number of laws to protect elders from this kind of abuse, the lack of transparency often makes it hard to discover until well after the acts have been committed. Elder financial abuse is generally governed by civil laws and remedies, and severe acts of elder financial abuse can result in criminal punishment.
If you or someone you know may be the victim of financial elder abuse, or if you have questions regarding financial elder abuse, please contact us.