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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Elder abuse case takes undue influence to the extreme

A bizarre case of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult may truly stun Twin Cities readers. The allegations of the 88-year-old male victim, if true, give new meaning to the term undue influence. The exploitation may have gone undiscovered if the elderly man had not been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. His apparent disappearance prompted his family to contact police when they found themselves unable to reach him.

According to reports of the local sheriff department, the man was taken into protective custody after he was found wandering the streets in a state of apparent confusion. When hospital staff concluded that the man needed no further treatment, he stated that he didn't want to go home because his wife was mistreating him and stealing his money. The man reported that he had previously attempted to escape from his wife, only to be beaten and locked in his room.

The man's 46-year-old wife reportedly coerced him into signing a power of attorney that granted her control of his finances while he was lying in a hospital bed. The man suffers from several potentially incapacitating conditions, including memory deficiencies. The wife moved the man into her own house and married him soon after he executed the power of attorney.

According to reports, the wife drained roughly $150,000 out of the elderly man's bank account in only four months. The wife wrote a number of checks out in her own name and spent a substantial part of the man's money to purchase a new home and a new car. The wife and two other unidentified women have been arrested and may face criminal charges, but the man's family may need to pursue probate litigation to recover what they can of his stolen assets.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Deputies: Elderly man, 88, exploited by new wife, 46," Barbara Hijek, July 2, 2012

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