Is a Power of Attorney a license to steal or a helpful tool? The answer is that it can be either. A power of attorney in the wrong hands can be used to financially exploit you. You can and should read about financial exploitation.
This blog has reported in the past about the apparent rise in financial exploitation of vulnerable adults in Minnesota by unscrupulous businesses. A recent case involving a Minneapolis coin dealer shows how brazen some of these businesses can be.
Despite some indications of increasing public awareness, officials from one Minnesota county say that the number of cases they see involving financial exploitation of vulnerable adults continues to rise. The observation of Olmsted county social services workers seems to gibe with the results of a national study published last year that reported nearly $3 billion in losses during 2010 as a result of the financial exploitation of people over age 60. That figure factored in losses to organized efforts, such as fraudulent home improvement and trust or insurance scams, but vulnerable adults also frequently fall prey to misuse of funds by those entrusted to provide for their care and well being.
Twin Cities readers have likely seen some pretty despicable stories about the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Many of these stories involve tactics of coercion employed by someone in a position of trust. Almost universally, the exploiter steals away the life savings of a senior citizen and spends it for his or her own benefit.
Many of our readers in the Twin Cities area may have been paying particular attention to discussions about the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. It seems that some unscrupulous people will stoop to any level to enrich themselves at the expense of the elderly.
Twin Cities residents do their best to take care of loved ones both physically and financially. Their efforts make a recent case of abuse and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult stand in stark contrast.
Twin Cities readers who have been following our discussions of financial exploitation may take interest in a recent story that demonstrates how the discovery of undue influence can lead to probate litigation. A recent decision concluded that a retired police officer exercised undue influence to goad an elderly woman into naming the officer as the sole beneficiary of her will. A Massachusetts probate court handed down the judgment in favor of the woman's rightful heirs, and it should be noted that state of Minnesota has similar laws pertaining to undue influence on its books.
Twin Cities residents with loved ones in residential care may want to take notice of a recent criminal case in Dakota County involving the financial exploitation of residents at a nursing home in South St. Paul. Four counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult led to a guilty plea by the accused woman, who allegedly stole almost $63,000 between March 2009 and November 2010. She apparently was able to obtain the money by writing checks to herself from the victims' checking accounts.
Recently, Minnesota's Commerce Commissioner urged the families of senior citizens to use tax time as an opportunity to look for signs of financial abuse, and a recent insurance industry study may give Twin Cities residents extra cause for concern over the estate of a senior loved one. The study concluded that as many as 60 percent of cases reporting financial exploitation of vulnerable adults involved coercion or undue influence by a grown-up child.
Minnesotan readers will be interested to know that a new leader has been appointed to run the recently founded Office of Older Americans, which is part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The purpose of the new federal agency is to prevent the financial exploitation of seniors, such as in cases of undue influence, coercion and self-dealing.