“Let it be clear that every one of these allegations are products of the increased confusion and memory loss that Dad has demonstrated in recent years,” Andy and Jan Aldrin said.
Their father had started associating with a few people who were “trying to drive a wedge between Dad and the family,” Andy Aldrin said. The siblings said they would not allow “opportunistic agents to grab the spotlight, break our family apart.”
They said they were also concerned about his increasingly lavish lifestyle, which grew to more than $70,000 a month at a time when he stopped accepting paid speaking engagements. His annual salary from the foundation was $36,000.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
McKnight's Senior Living Newsletter editor Lois Bowers wrote an article that alerted me to the June 2018 publication of a new study of unlicensed residential care facilities. From the abstract:
Residential care facilities operating without a state license are known to house vulnerable adults. Such unlicensed care homes (UCHs) commonly operate illegally, making them difficult to investigate. We conducted an exploratory, multimethod qualitative study of UCHs, including 17 subject matter expert interviews and site visits to three states, including a total of 30 stakeholder interviews, to understand UCH operations, services provided, and residents served. Findings indicate that various vulnerable groups reside in UCHs; some UCHs offer unsafe living environments; and some residents are reportedly abused, neglected, and financially exploited. Regulations, policies, and practices that might influence UCH prevalence are discussed.
The study included visiting unlicensed facilities in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
For the full report see Unlicensed Care Homes in the United States: A Clandestine Sector of Long-Term Care, by Michael Lepore, Angela M. Greene, Kristie Porter, Linda Lux, Emily Vreeland, and Catherine Hawes, published in the Journal of Aging and Social Policy.
July 17, 2018 in Consumer Information, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Property Management, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, July 12, 2018
The National Center for Law & Elder Rights (NCLER) has released a fact sheet explaining a new law that allows consumers to place freezes on their credit info for free, starting on September 21, 2018. New Law Provides Free Security Freezes and Increased Fraud Alert Protection explains that "[o]n May 24, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-174 into law. Section 301 of Public Law 115-174 amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to establish a new federal right for consumers to implement a security freeze of their credit file." (citations omitted).
The legislation establishes standards for the creation, temporary lifting or “thaw,” and permanent removal of security freezes from the nationwide consumer reporting agencies. The security freezes are essentially limited to parties seeking the consumer’s information for credit purposes. The freeze does not apply to parties who seek the report for employment, insurance, or tenant-screening purposes. It also does not apply to existing creditors or their agents or assignees conducting an account review, collecting on a financial obligation owed them, or seeking to extend a “firm offer of credit” (i.e.,prescreening).
In addition, the new law preempts state credit freeze laws and expands the length of fraud alerts from 3 months to a full year! Further, "[t]he legislation’s preemption extends to any state requirement or prohibition with respect to subject matter regulated by the statute’s provisions relating to security freezes. For example, some state statutes are stronger than the new federal standards by allowing consumers to freeze access to credit reports for employment or insurance purposes." There is also a provision covering when a fiduciary needs to secure a freeze for an individual who is incapacitated.
July 12, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Property Management, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
We're back! Hope everyone had a lovely 4th. I wanted to be sure you saw this new fact sheet from the ABA Commission on Law & Aging regarding thee right of visitation for persons under guardianship. The fact sheet, Guardianship and the Right to Visitation, Communication, and Interactionsummarizes state statutes that specifically address the issue of visitation. Here's the introduction:
Defining the right to visitation, communication, and interaction under guardianship is an important issue in elder and disability rights law. This issue recently gained media attention when the adult children of incapacitated celebrities such as Casey Kasem and Peter Falk petitioned the courts for the right to visit their parents over a guardian’s objections, and then advocated for legislative change. These high-profile visitation cases highlight an unknown but anecdotally frequent number of instances nationally. In addition, as more state legislatures codify protections for the rights of people with guardians, and the public becomes more aware of the potential risks of guardianship—including isolation from friends, family, and community—more states are debating hotly contested visitation bills.
Estrangement from family, friends, and acquaintances can be a precursor and a consequence of guardianship. The factors that led to the appointment of a guardian–mental illness, dementia, poverty, abuse, and exploitation–may have also led to unwanted isolation. Family, friends, and professionals should all be aware of the potentially devastating effects of isolation on the person; loss of ties to friends, family, and social networks can have a negative effect on anyone’s physical and mental health.
Traditionally, a guardian has the power to encourage or limit important relationships and connections. Recently, national standards and state laws have charged guardians with encouraging and supporting visitation in accordance with a person’s values and preferences. Still, a guardian may have to weigh the important benefits of visitation with the need to restrict contact due to family dysfunction, undue influence, neglect, abuse, and/or financial exploitation.
The fact sheet offers 13 FAQ with various state legislative responses. Twenty-two states have addressed the visitation issue in some form, with summaries of those actions provided as part of the FAQ. The fact sheet also summarizes some of the provisions of the new Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act that address the issue.
Click here to access the fact sheet.
Monday, July 9, 2018
The Washington Post reported on the case of an 87 year old woman who convinced a judge to terminate her guardianship in favor of supported decision-making. This 87-year-old D.C. woman just made it easier for you to keep your independence explains that "[t]he octogenarian is the first senior citizen in the District to convince a court to terminate a guardianship placed on her in favor of “supported decision-making.” She and her attorneys successfully argued that with help from people in her life, she could make her own decisions and did not need a court-appointed guardian to do that for her."
Her case marks the first time that the District’s supported decision-making law, which was passed in May, has been cited in court to help a resident regain independence. Most of us have friends or relatives we turn to for advice. This is the same as that — but more. The D.C. law formalizes those relationships and requires institutions and organizations to recognize the role of people who serve in those supportive positions. The District is only the fourth jurisdiction in the country to pass the law, after Texas, Delaware and Wisconsin. (Virginia and Maryland — are you listening?)
The elder acknowledges the need for help for some things and the knowledge of who she calls to get that help. Her reaction to the ruling? She's quoted in the article: “It makes you feel powerful to be in charge of your own life,” she said. “You can have a lot of help everywhere, but you are your own boss.” She's realistic, though, recognizing that at some point she may not be able to live independently.
The Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA) incorporates supported decision-making. So far Maine has adopted UGCOPAA and a bill has been introduced in New Mexico to adopt it.
Still, she said, she worries about the future, about whether one day she will be told that she can no longer live alone in her apartment.
She knows all too well what many of us, thankfully, have not yet had to learn — the suddenness with which life can change.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The Washington Post reported on one of the latest famous persons to be embroiled in a guardianship proceeding. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is fighting attempts by his kids to place him under guardianship. Buzz Aldrin is suing his children. They say they are trying to protect the legendary astronaut.explains that his kids sought to be appointed as guardian. Mr. Aldrin responded by suing them along with his manager, on the basis that "they sought to take advantage of him [and now], the family is embroiled in a rancorous dispute that has spilled from the courts into a public spectacle that both sides say they don’t want." Mr. Aldrin's suit claimed that "they assumed control of his “personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social media accounts and all elements of the Buzz Aldrin brand.” The suit accuses [one child] of a breach of fiduciary duty." The children quoted in the article offering a contrary view of matters
June 28, 2018 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Mark your calendars for a free webinar on Financial Exploitation and Medicare Fraud. The National Center on Law & Elder Rights will be offering this webinar on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 from 2-3 edt. Here's info about the webinar
Medicare fraud hurts individuals and is harmful to the Medicare Trust Fund. The Medicare Trust fund loses between $60 and $90 billion dollars every year to fraud, waste and abuse. Individuals can lose access to Medicare services because their identity has been misappropriated by someone else. Law and aging advocates play an important role in helping older adults prevent, detect, and report Medicare fraud and abuse.
In this free webinar, Financial Exploitation and Medicare Fraud, California’s Senior Medicare Patrol will teach advocates how to identify potential Medicare scams and report fraud and abuse to the Senior Medicare Patrol. Justice in Aging will highlight potential exploitive Medicare practices and outlines strategies to help prevent exploitation.
To register, click here
June 27, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, June 22, 2018
A recent press release from Department of Veterans Affairs announced the VA's decision to release "annual" ratings for its nursing homes. From the opening words, the language in the notice is, shall we say, interesting.
Today [June 12, 2018] the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) extended its unprecedented 18-month record of transparency disclosures by making public for the first time its annual nursing home ratings. View the ratings here.
The data show that, overall, VA’s nursing home system – composed of more than 130 community living centers – compares closely with private sector nursing homes, even though the department on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities.
In fact, the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared to the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage (34.1 percent lower) of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation.
Of note, 60 of VA’s nursing homes improved their quality score from last year to this year (2nd Quarter FY17 to 2ndQuarter FY18). Only one facility had a meaningful decline in that metric, and that facility was already rated with four stars.
Extending President Trump’s Commitment to VA Transparency, Quality Improvement
For years, the Obama administration had resisted making certain VA quality data public. But under President Trump’s leadership, transparency and accountability have become hallmarks of VA....
In addition to the press release, interested readers will want to follow USA TODAY and Boston Globe articles analyzing statistical reports from the VA, including Secret VA Nursing Home Ratings Hide Poor Quality Care From the Public (June 17, 2018); Lawmakers Demand Secrete NVA Nursing Home Data Be Released After USA TODAY, Boston Globe Report (June 19, 2018).
On June 20, 2018, USA Today followed up its series of articles with an editorial, pointing to incomplete information released by the VA:
Veterans can now go online to see comparative data for VA hospitals and outpatient clinics and choose private alternatives if VA care is wanting. But Veterans Affairs evidently hasn't yet learned that lesson for its operation of nursing homes. Though it released limited appraisal information after reporters inquired, the agency continues to withhold underlying quality data such as infection and injury rates at its elderly care facilities.
This information needs to be made public, not just when reporters ask for it but for any veteran or family of a veteran considering care at a VA nursing home. Private nursing homes are required by federal law to make this information available, and so should taxpayer-financed VA facilities.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
I've been thinking a lot lately about the tone and words used by individuals in advocating for change. Part of the reason I think about that is many of our students will choose the roles of advocates for change.
Another, perhaps more obvious impetus for this contemplation is the increasing use of demonization to characterize "others" you disagree with. In the language of debate, such an approach is an ad hominem attack, where the argument is directed against the person rather than the position they are maintaining. And it seems the usual adjective to add for that style is to call it a "vicious ad hominem attack."
I understand anger. I understand the emotion that can fuel heightened language. But, the plain fact of the matter is, that style often is not effective in achieving change in the law, especially in the courtroom. I get it, that rationality sometimes isn't effective either. That's enormously frustrating. But what I tend to see as a response to vicious ad hominem attacks is for the target to either respond in kind (more shouting, more name calling) or go "underground." It causes the target to double-down on his or her own personal, now equally angry, position. And courts do not respond well at all to such a style of advocacy.
As I'm typing these words, I'm thinking about some of the advocacy that is being used by opponents of guardianships. I see the occasional such comment (sometimes too long to attach to a post) on the Elder Law Prof Blog. Again, I understand the anger of family members who perceive a loved one to be the victim of a self-dealing agent, whether that bad agent was a guardian, a trustee, someone acting under a power of attorney, or simply someone who was made an accommodation party on a joint account. The anger is justified.
But, when the opponents of the bad agents cast an overbroad net against all courts or all judges or, even, all guardians, using, dare I say, "trumpian" adjectives and nouns to characterize all individuals serving in such roles, it just isn't very effective. It closes the door to change in the law. At least, that's my 2 cents on the topic. We need better solutions for instances where individuals did not choose their own trustworthy agents.
I was struck by a couple of news stories I read today by individuals who use anger to characterize disease, especially dementia. Now, here, I think the anger and harsh language as a rhetorical tool is different, and has a different effect. For example, a recent article described actor Don Cheadle's anger, sorrow, and disbelief following the loss of his mother. He is described as saying:
"She went through a real tough spell. She had dementia and it's just an evil, mean disease. To watch someone just deteriorate in that way, it's hard to believe."
Here, even though obviously the disease isn't a sentient being, the characterization of it as evil, as, in essence, an enemy, seems more effective. The desire might be for an army to rally to oppose the devastation wrought by the disease.
Just a bit of mid-week musing. Some of this is probably influenced by being the daughter of a judge who worked 7 days a week for 30+ years, far harder and longer than necessary for his job or any job. Or, it could be my musing is the result of far too much caffeine as I work on summer law reform projects, and as I try to sort out what arguments are the most likely to be effective.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Eric Carlson, Nancy Stone and Lori Smetanka have joined forces to write an important new guideline for advocacy under the revisions issued by CMS in 2016 for nursing facility care, with an eye towards additional changes likely to occur under the Trump administration.
After surveying the most important reforms, they advise:
The revised regulations contain both positives and negatives for nursing facility residents and their advocates. The positives include expanded requirements for person-centered care, care planning, and resident choice and participation in health care services. The revised regulations also strengthen the NHRA’s prohibitions against facilities requiring a third-party guarantee of payment or a waiver of legal rights, and protections for residents from improper transfer/discharge. In addition, the regulations have added requirements for a facility grievance official and procedures.
It is disappointing, however, that the revised regulations do not require a registered nurse around the clock or a minimum staffing standard. Even though unnecessary restraints are included in the definition of “abuse” and the requirements for drug regimen reviews and reporting of unnecessary drugs were expanded, the revised regulations compromise the focus on ending the misuse of antipsychotic medications.
In addition, the Trump administration has proposed a repeal of the ban on predispute arbitration agreements and delayed enforcement remedies for certain Phase 2 requirements. The administration is also considering the repeal or further modification of other revised regulations (e.g., regulations on grievance procedures, quality assurance, and ombudsman discharge notices).
The authors explain the importance of advocacy in this time of change:
Even though CMS and the states are responsible for implementing these regulations, regulation implementation, if left solely to government agencies and providers, is usually scattershot and inadequate. For the revised regulations to truly become the national standard of care, nursing facility residents and their advocates must be prepared to assert resident rights over and over again. Another unfortunate reality is that nursing facilities may be hostile or apathetic toward the revised regulations and the survey agencies can only do so much, given that federal law requires surveys only once a year. For these reasons, it is up to residents, families, and advocates to be knowledgeable about the federal law and make nursing facilities accountable when they fall short.
For the full picture, read Advocating for Nursing Facility Residents Under the Revised Federal Requirements, published April 2018 in the NAELA Journal, and available online as a PDF.
June 20, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, June 18, 2018
One of our good readers sent us an item by CityLimits.org tracking recent complaints made to (and about) the NY Attorney General. The title of the article is They Say Legal Guardians Ripped Them Off-- and the State AG Let Them. I've come to expect that when I see an investigative piece on problems with guardians, I will read comments from a range of national advocates, such as Dr. Sam Sugar of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship or Richard Black with the Center for Estate Administration Reform. Both individuals comment in this particular piece.
There are many challenges ahead for much needed reform efforts, including the fact that different laws can govern different forms of fiduciary relationships. For example, even though the article focuses in major part on "guardians," a label used to describe individuals or entities appointed by the court to assist an individual deemed incapacitated and unable to handle his or her own affairs without such a court-appointment, the article demonstrates that the problems can arise outside the guardianship arena.
In the opening tale for the article, the individual in need of assistance, a 31 year old disabled daughter, was apparently the the beneficiary of her deceased father's trust. The father became entangled with an untrustworthy individual shortly before his death, and that person was named the trustee. The actions by that individual -- described in the article as a "disbarred" lawyer and former state senator -- control much of the dynamic. It is not clear from the article whether the daughter's parents were estranged before the death of her father, thus sidelining the mother from accessing the trust in trying to help their daughter. Guardians later appointed by court for the daughter reportedly contributed to the costs for the estate. Yet key allegations of abuse focus on the actions of the alleged untrustworthy trustee, who was selected for this fiduciary role by the father, not the court.
The article reports on this as an example where the AG has allegedly declined to intervene following reports of fiduciary abuse.
Guardianship reform is important and, thank goodness, is ongoing in many states. But true reform is needed in the hearts and minds of abusive individuals in a variety of financial caregiving relationships, not just guardianships. The challenges for courts and law enforcement officers, including AGs and other prosecutors, will only grow without a stronger ethical commitment at the core.
June 18, 2018 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Property Management, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)
Friday, June 15, 2018
Sad news is emerging from Los Angeles that Stan Lee, the legendary comic book author, film producer, Marvel Comic magnate and occasional actor (often with brilliant, subtle cameos) went to court this week. He was seeking a temporary restraining order against Keya Morgan, sometimes described as a business partner and long-time manager, who reportedly had been serving as a caregiver for Lee after the death of his wife last year. Stan Lee is 95 and the grounds alleged in the petition include "elder abuse." The court granted Lee a temporary order on June 13, and scheduled a further hearing for July. The defendant denies all charges.
Here are additional details from CNN Entertainment, including a collage of clips, sometimes sadly ironic given the charges, from some of Mr. Lee's appearances in films over the years.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
The Evolution of Email Scammers: Moving from Granny, to Granny's Lawyers and Financial Companies as Their Targets
In my Elder Protection Clinic days, I met with family members of older adults victimized by off-shore scammers. In one notable case, the older mother, normally a savvy woman about her personal finances, had succumbed to the flattery of someone posing as a financial advisor, who offered her various new "investments." He knew just how to work her, appealing to her "business acumen," using internet maps to learn about her neighborhood and thus to make it seem his office was in a building near her bank in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Even after her daughter, with the help of a legitimate financial advisor who caught the unusual activity on the mother's accounts, shut down any easy means of access to her mom, the mother continued to believe the perpetrator was just bad at financial advice, and not totally corrupt.
The elderly mother's judgment on who to trust was impaired, but the impairment was specific and hard to recognize because she otherwise functioned fairly well. The combination of the perpetrator's flattery, his appeal to her once-strong financial skills, and the fact that she was lonely, trapped in her house as her physical strength was waning, all contributed to the success of the scam. It all began with a single email.
A recent announcement by the FBI of a coordinated law enforcement effort to disrupt international scammers reveals how the scamming industry has evolved. The FBI explains:
Operation WireWire—which also included the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service—involved a six-month sweep that culminated in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 74 arrests in the U.S. and overseas, including 42 in the U.S., 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
A number of cases charged in this operation involved international criminal organizations that defrauded small- to large-sized businesses, while others involved individual victims who transferred high-dollar amounts or sensitive records in the course of business. The devastating impacts these cases have on victims and victim companies affect not only the individual business but also the global economy. Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC [business e-mail compromise] and its variant, e-mail account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3.
BEC, also known as cyber-enabled financial fraud, is a sophisticated scam that often targets employees with access to company finances and trick them—using a variety of methods like social engineering and computer intrusions—into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners but instead belong to accounts controlled by the criminals themselves. And these same criminal organizations that perpetrate BEC schemes also exploit individual victims—often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others—by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.
Foreign citizens perpetrate many of these schemes, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world.
Law firms were among the most frequent targets of the scammers, who posed as clients to access funds held in the law firms' trust accounts. For more on the industry, read "It's Time to Stop Laughing at Nigerian Scammers -- Because They're Stealing Billions of Dollars," from the Washington Post.
June 14, 2018 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, International, Property Management | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, June 8, 2018
John Oliver, the star of Last Week Tonight focused on guardianship on the June 3, 2018 show. The segment focused quite a bit on some of the abuses that have been reported recently in the press. But, to Mr. Oliver's credit, he notes that sometimes, despite a person's efforts, a guardianship is needed. He provides suggestions for improving the system and for individuals on planning to minimize the chances of a guardianship going wrong. There is some good info in the segment, and he makes several important points, but in a comedic and satirical format.
The link to the segment is here. Be sure to watch through to the end, to see cameos from several celebrities offering advice on planning for incapacity (although they do get off track quite a bit) including health care powers of attorney and DPOAs. And who wouldn't want Tom Hanks to be their health care agent! (You have to watch the last bit to get that reference). Caveat: there is some "salty" language used throughout the segment.
June 8, 2018 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)
Thursday, June 7, 2018
BBB found these frauds concentrate disproportionately on older people, who suffer the largest losses by far. A vast worldwide industry of sweepstakes mailings specifically targets older victims. Major law enforcement efforts are focused on the millions of deceptive mailings that have flooded the mailboxes of seniors across the country. In addition to money loss, victims often are emotionally devastated when they realize they have been defrauded. Some have even resorted to committing suicide.
In particular, the report offers data for the past 3 years by age group and shows the number of complaints by age and the amount of losses (and the total is staggering). The report ponders why elders are targets, offering
While some studies suggest older consumers are somewhat less likely to be fraud victims than the general population, perhaps because they have more life experience to guide them, there is evidence suggesting they are more likely to become victims of sweepstakes fraud. Complaint data shows more than half of victims are over 60, and those over 70 years old account for more than two thirds of the losses related to this scheme.
Why is this? It is speculated that the fraudsters hope to find victims with mild cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These people often continue sending hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to fraudsters. A retired college president sent tens of thousands of dollars to scammers. CNN reported that an older man suffering from Alzheimer’s sent all of his funds to scammers and then committed suicide when the prize money never came. A San Diego TV station explains how one senior victim was defrauded.
In addition, seniors may simply have more money and may have been at the same address, with the same phone number, for a longer time and therefore may be easier to locate.
The 16 page report offers insight onto scams from Jamaica, Costa Rica and social media, provides profile stories of some victims and perpetrators, and offers suggestions and recommendations with contact info for agencies that handle cases of scams and frauds.
There is a lot of information packed into this 16 page report. Check it out!
Friday, June 1, 2018
Happy June 1. Celebrate by registering now for a free webinar for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day! From the DOJ Elder Justice Initiative, this 4 p.m. webinar will include:
A presenter from the Social Security Administration will share the latest on representative payees; an EJI representative will talk about the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act and new resources being developed to better respond to elder abuse; an expert from the Administration for Community Living will describe their guardianship grant programs and the importance of data collection for policy and programmatic enhancement; and the Deputy Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse will present on some of the latest trends and resources that will help you to better respond to elder abuse.
Expert presenters include:
Lydia Chevere, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration
Aiesha Gurley, Aging Specialist, Office of Elder Justice and Adult Protective Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Susan C. Lynch, Senior Counsel for Elder Justice, U.S. Department of Justice
Julie Schoen, Deputy Director, National Center on Elder Abuse
To register for this webinar, click here
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
I promised more information about the consumer protection measures signed into law by President Trump on May 24, 2018. Here's the more detailed update I wrote for WealthManagement.com: The New Senior $afe Act Encourages Reporting Senior Financial Abuse.
May 30, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Property Management | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
A book I co-authored on The Law of Financial Abuse and Exploitation was inspired, sadly, by several cases we had in our Elder Protection Clinic at Dickinson Law in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
In one case, at first the relationship between great niece and great aunt had seemed to friends and neighbors to be loving and protective. It wasn't until the elder's care needs increased, and it turned out there was no money to pay for care by professionals, that the truth was uncovered. The aunt's money, close to a million over three years, was gone.
With the benefit of hindsight, you could see how the exploitation began -- with the younger woman asking for permission to use the elder's accounts for a few improvements and upgrades around the house. Then she stopped asking for permission. Eventually her spending was for fur coats, jewelry and a luxury car (actually, two). Her aunt no longer could see to review her accounts and there weren't any other relatives to ask questions. The niece probably didn't count on her aunt living past 100 -- or testifying against her at the criminal trial about the unauthorized spending, when she was 101. The younger woman tried to justify her behavior, testifying at trial that "she wanted me to have the money. She was going to leave it to me in her will."
Several friends, including Karen Miller, in Florida, sent me copies of another tragic tale, this time from Brooklyn via the New York Times. I suspect, that in this account of a relationship between an older widow and a local waitress, the younger woman probably told herself her "friend"wanted her to have the money. She too will be thinking about this in jail. Read She Found Comfort in a Brooklyn Diner, Then Lost Everything.
May 29, 2018 in Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Property Management, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, May 24, 2018
The "Senior Safe Act," part of a federal banking reform law that will modify Dodd-Frank, has been passed by both houses of Congress with bi-partisan support. Note the sometimes clever spelling for "Safe" as "$afe," used by proponents. From a McKnight's Senior Living report on May 23, 2018:
A bipartisan bill intended to help protect older adults from financial exploitation and fraud is on its way to the president's desk to be signed into law.
The Senior $afe Act, authored by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday as part of a bipartisan banking reform package after previously being passed by the Senate in March. President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he plans to sign the legislation into law.
Collins and McCaskill had introduced the Senior $afe Act in 2017 when they were chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Collins still leads the committee, and McCaskill remains a member.
The legislation protects banks, credit unions, investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies and insurance agencies from being sued for reporting suspected exploitation or fraud as long as they have trained their employees about how to identify the warning signs of common scams and make reports in good faith to the proper authorities.
“The Senior $afe Act, based on Maine's innovative program, will empower and encourage our financial service representatives to identify warning signs of common scams and help prevent seniors from becoming victims,” Collins said in a statement.
I'll report more once I have a close look at the language, as enacted.
May 24, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Last Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes ran an extended feature story on the role of grandparents as primary caregivers for grandchildren, often because of untrustworthy parents with opioid or other addiction problems. The story reported that "stoked by the opioid crisis, 21,000 children -- just in Utah -- live with their grandparents."
The feature also suggested some of the financial consequences for the extended family, as grandparents were exhausting their own retirement savings in order to provide for the younger children. Nonprofit programs, such as Grandfamilies, sometimes are able to provide informal support for the grandparents.
Along the same lines, Pennsylvania's Governor Wolf signed new laws, Senate Bill 844 (Printer's No. 1531), which became Act No. 21, on May 4, 2018. The law recognizes expanded standing for grandparents to seek physical or legal custody for grandchildren, if they can show "clear and convincing evidence" of all of the following:
(I) The individual has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child.
(II) The individual has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child.
In determining whether the individual meets the requirements of this subparagh, the court may consider, among other factors, the nature, quality, extent and length of the involvement by the individual in the child's life.
(III) Neither parent has any form of care or control of the child.
Pennsylvania estimates that there are 82,000 grandparents acting as sole caregivers for roughly 89,000 grandchildren. Other related bills still pending in Pennsylvania include support for creation of a "Kinship Caregiver Navigation Program," and a means to appoint a temporary guardian when a parent enters drug or alcohol treatment.
Additional history on the shifts in thinking on grandparent rights can be important. For example see this Pennsylvania law firm's blog post from 2013 on amendments that removed "automatic" standing for grandparents to seek custody.
The Pennsylvania Bar Institute, responding swiftly to the latest changes, is offering a Webinar tomorrow (May 17, 2018) on the new laws.
Yesterday, May 15, 2018, was designated by the U.S. Senate as "National Senior Fraud Awareness Day." The reason for the day, according to the Congressional Record is "To Raise Awareness About the Increasing Number of Fraudulent Schemes Targeted At Older People of The United States, To Encourage The Implementation of Policies to Prevent These Scams From Happening, and to Improve Protections From These Scams For Seniors."
Senator Collins for herself and 4 other Senators, and introduced the resolution, S. Res. 506.
Here it is in its entirety:
Whereas, in 2017, there were more than 47,800,000 individuals age 65 or older in the United States (referred to in this preamble as ``seniors''), and seniors accounted for 14.9 percent of the total population of the United States;
Whereas senior fraud is a growing concern as millions of older people of the United States are targeted by scams each year, including the Internal Revenue Service impersonation scams, sweepstakes and lottery scams, grandparent scams, computer tech support scams, romance scams, work-at-home scams, charity scams, home improvement scams, fraudulent investment schemes, and identity theft; Whereas other types of fraud perpetrated against seniors include health care fraud, health insurance fraud, counterfeit prescription drug fraud, funeral and cemetery fraud, ``anti-aging'' product fraud, telemarketing fraud, and internet fraud;
Whereas the Government Accountability Office has estimated that seniors lose a staggering $2,900,000,000 each year to an ever-growing array of financial exploitation schemes and scams;
Whereas, since 2013, the fraud hotline of the Special Committee on Aging of the Senate has received more than 7,200 complaints reporting possible scams from individuals in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
Whereas the ease with which criminals contact seniors through the internet and telephone increases as more creative schemes emerge;
Whereas, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017, released by the Federal Trade Commission, people age 60 years and older were defrauded of $249,000,000 in 2017, with the median loss to defrauded victims age 80 and older averaging $1,092 per person, more than double the average amount lost by those victims between the ages 50 and 59 years old;
Whereas senior fraud is underreported by victims due to embarrassment and lack of information about where to report fraud; and
Whereas May 15, 2018, is an appropriate day to establish as ``National Senior Fraud Awareness Day'': Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) supports the designation of May 15, 2018, as ``National Senior Fraud Awareness Day'';
(2) recognizes ``National Senior Fraud Awareness Day'' as an opportunity to raise awareness about the barrage of scams that individuals age 65 or older in the United States (referred to in this resolving clause as ``seniors'') face in person, by mail, on the phone, and online;
(3) recognizes that law enforcement, consumer protection groups, area agencies on aging, and financial institutions all play vital roles in preventing scams targeting seniors and educating seniors about those scams;
(4) encourages implementation of policies to prevent these scams and to improve measures to protect seniors from scams targeting seniors; and
(5) honors the commitment and dedication of the individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to fight against scams targeting seniors.
May 16, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)