Financial Abuse

Friday, March 31, 2017

No One Puts Granny in the Corner—or Steals Her Money

Q: What forms of abuse are elders vulnerable to?

Unfortunately, elder abuse is alive and rampant in California and throughout the country, with people seemingly everywhere ready to prey on unsuspecting, vulnerable seniors.

A recent San Francisco arrest sounds like something straight out of Dirty Dancing.

Fans of the iconic movie set in a fictional 1950s Catskills area summer resort may remember the Schumachers –a resort-hopping, serial-wallet-lifting couple who stole wallets from unsuspecting guests at Kellermans, the Sheldrake, and countless similar resorts from Florida to Arizona before being arrested.
Read more . . .

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Finra proposes rule to prevent elder financial abuse

What could this new rule mean for our elderly loved ones?

Financial elder abuse is far more common than we can really know and can lead to devastating consequences. Because our elderly population can often become targets of unscrupulous individuals, we need to be as vigilant as possible to proactively protect our elderly loved ones.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is trying to do its’ part to help protect our senior citizens and younger adults with cognitive or physical disabilities from financial abuse. FINRA has proposed a new rule with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) that allows financial brokers to report suspected

Read more . . .

Monday, November 14, 2016

Four Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

What are the signs that a senior citizen may be a victim of financial exploitation by a wealth advisor?

It is a sad reality that, of all the ways the elderly can be mistreated, financial elder abuse is one of the most common. At a time when one in thirteen financial advisors has been subject to some form of disciplinary proceeding, seniors and retirees are especially vulnerable.

Indicators That A Financial Adviser May Not Have Your Best Interests At Heart

1. Recommendations that ignore practical needs.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bad Connection: Financial Elder Abuse Telephone Scams

How can the elderly be protected from financial elder abuse?

Today’s elderly folks come from what’s known as the “Greatest Generation”--those who came of age during the Great Depression and who are the parents of the Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers are not only often caretakers for their elderly parents, but are themselves rapidly joining their parents among the ranks of the nation’s senior citizens.

Today’s elderly grew up in a very different world.

Read more . . .

Monday, August 8, 2016

Financial Elder Abuse Threatens Elderly Couple With Eviction

Mistreatment of the elderly takes many forms, but the most common is financial elder abuse. Fraud, misappropriation of funds, and other betrayals by people in a position of trust often cause at least as much harm as physical abuse, with far reaching consequences.

A Too-Trusting Couple Deeds Their House to Their Grandson

The recent experience of a California couple is a case in point. Both in their late 80s, the elderly couple considered borrowing against the home they had shared for half a century.

Read more . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse

Seniors are increasingly becoming the target of financial scams for a variety of reasons. While many older adults may have accumulated significant assets, even those with low or fixed incomes are vulnerable to financial exploitation. Financial abuse often comes at the hands of an older individual's family members whether adult children, grandchildren, other relatives, and caretakers.

At the same time, there a number of scams in which strangers prey on seniors. The most common scam involves bogus telemarketing calls aimed at obtaining personal information.
Read more . . .

Friday, July 10, 2015

Minimizing Liability for Conservators

I was recently appointed as a conservator in California. What can I do to avoid unnecessarily exposing myself to liability? 

Serving as a conservator is oftentimes a thankless and grueling job. However, the role serves a vital purpose in protecting California’s vulnerable children and adults from risk and harm. As a conservator, it is important to follow California’s guidelines to the letter – particularly with regard to the handling of assets and financial transfers on behalf of the ward, as any improper intentional misconduct could lead to significant liability and loss of the role of conservator.

One of the first steps in serving as a conservator is often obtaining a conservator’s bond – which operates to insure the conservatee in the event of loss. If the conservatee’s next-of-kin, and the conservatee himself, consent to the arrangement, the bond may not be necessary. 

From there, a conservator must notify the ward’s banks, financial advisors, and any other individuals or institutions involved in the assets of the estate. This is accomplished by providing Letters of Conservatorship, which are issued after the conservatorship is officially ordered. Attempting to rearrange assets or otherwise access the estate assets could quickly trigger liability for the conservator. 

From there, a conservator must arrange for an inventory of the conservatee’s entire estate, which must be filed with the probate court within 90 days. Another way to avoid liability is to ensure the inventory is completely accurate and includes all real and valuable personal property belonging to the ward. From there, the conservator must make and follow a Plan for Conservatorship, which will cover the methods and techniques the conservator will use to ensure the assets are properly managed and prudently invested. 

One of the most common ways in which a conservator could face liability to a conservatee’s beneficiaries involves the mismanagement of estate funds. As conservator, one must ensure the conservatee is adequately cared for, has all monthly obligations met, has appropriate medical coverage, and is able to live on a reasonable budget. If a conservator fails to properly maintain the conservatee’s assets and the conservatee begins experiencing harm in the process, considerable liability – and even criminal financial culpability – could result. 

If you have questions about the conservatorship process in California, please do not hesitate to contact the San Jose and Santa Clara estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge, LLP today: (408)985-9918. 


Friday, May 29, 2015

Top Scams Targeting the Elderly and What to do If You’ve Been Victimized

I’ve received several calls lately that seem somewhat suspect. What are the latest scams I should know about? 

It is a sad reality that scammers from across the globe will stop at nothing to siphon the hard-earned savings of America’s senior citizen population. Fortunately, many of the ongoing scams against the elderly have been identified by authorities and highlighted in the article below. If you suspect you have lost money due to a scam artist, or are worried about the economic integrity of a loved one, be sure to contact authorities immediately. From there, an experienced elder law attorney can help you not only recover some of what you lost, but fortify your estate plan and financial situation to avoid exposure in the future. 

#5: Scams involving healthcare: Medicare, or prescription medication: As the Baby Boomer population ages, the number of reported scams involving Medicare or prescription medication fraud has also steadily increased. Medicare agents will never ask for your personal information over the phone, so be wary of any unsuspected/unplanned phone calls involving one posing as a Medicare employee. Likewise, seniors seeking lower rates on prescription drugs should be careful when shopping online, as there are hundreds of identified prescription drug scammers identified by the FBI. 

#4: Funeral & cemetery plot scams: Pre-paid funeral arrangements can be a savvy way to plan for the future or spend down assets for Medicaid planning. However, there is no shortage of fraud in this industry, and seniors have been duped into forwarding thousands of dollars to a prepaid funeral plan, only for the family to realize years later that the entire set-up was a scam. If you decide upon a pre-paid funeral plan and burial plot, ensure the company is reputable and ask for references before paying any money up front. 

#3: Online scams: Today’s seniors are much more internet savvy than generations past, however it is not uncommon for scam artists to use pop-up advertisements, phishing scams, or email blasts to entice users to offer sensitive information, including social security numbers and credit card information. Never enter this information into a website unless you know exactly what you are purchasing, and always ensure the site is encrypted and secure. Likewise, never send personal information via email, as this could be easily intercepted by hackers. 

#2: Reverse mortgage scams: For some, a reverse mortgage makes financial sense. However, this option is only available to senior citizens, making it a prime industry for fraud. Scammers love to target not only a perceived vulnerable population (i.e., the elderly), but those with substantial assets who own their own home. In a fraudulent reverse mortgage transaction, the fraudster will entice the homeowner to transfer the deed to the property in exchange for a home “elsewhere” or a lump sum of cash. Shortly after the transfer is complete, the victims realize the entire setup was a fraud, and have no home to which to return. 

#1: Telemarketing scams: In one of the oldest tricks in the book, telemarketers will prey on lonely or isolated seniors, living alone, who seem eager to talk to another person. The scammer will ask questions about their grandchildren or hobbies in order to gain their trust, then encourage them to make a large purchase over the phone. After providing credit card information, the victim is out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, and the scam artist is long gone. 

If you are facing a recent scam or have questions about certain solicitations you are receiving, do not hesitate to contact the experienced elder law attorneys at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge right away. You can reach the office by dialing (408)985-9918 today. 

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