Twin Cities readers may be interested to learn that two state lawmakers have recently proposed legislation that would impose more rigorous background check requirements for individuals seeking court appointments to serve as guardians or conservators. Minnesota's Attorney General supports the measure aimed at reducing the risk of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.
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.
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.
Readers in Minneapolis and St. Paul may have tuned in to our previous discussions about the risks of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, but a recent case involving a gambling grandmother turns the tables on the usual roles of exploiter versus exploited. Criminal charges stemming from the grandmother's looting of her grandson's college trust fund still serve as a lesson in the importance of monitoring the financial practices of an elder family member, but also illustrate the importance of legal assistance in matters of trust administration.
Film buffs in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be most familiar with Reese Witherspoon for her many starring roles in movies. But the actress recently took on a legal role in real life as she petitioned to be appointed her father's conservator. The actress joined with her mother to seek conservatorship over her father, who is believed to suffer from dementia.
Readers in the Twin Cities may take interest in a recent case involving the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults by an unscrupulous deli owner. The deli owner succeeded in defrauding three seniors out of more than $200,000 of a substantial inheritance and may have continued to get away with robbing the unwitting heirs if not for a court-ordered conservatorship.
A recent case of probate litigation may give readers in the Twin Cities even more incentive to monitor the financial activities of elderly loved ones. Through the lawsuit, the legal guardian of an incapacitated millionaire widow is seeking to defeat a charity organization's demand to make good on an alleged $1 million donation commitment.
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.
As Minnesotans know, older adults can be especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, and sometimes, if coercion or undue influence is suspected to have affected a person's end-of-life wishes, disputes can arise that lead to will contests and other kinds of litigation.