In my practice in Texas, I have seen what I consider egregious cases of elderly persons asked (forced?) to sign important legal and financial documents while under duress or when suffering from dementia. The effect is that the person signs away hundreds of thousands of dollars, either immediately or upon their death. Sometimes the wrongdoer is a caregiver, sometimes a girlfriend/boyfriend, and sometimes a close family member.
Mickey Rooney gave some compelling and emotional testimony before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He was speaking in support of Senator Herb Kohl’s “Elder Abuse Victims Act.” According to Bloomberg, Rooney testified to what he called “emotional blackmail” of elders:
“My money was stolen from me, by someone close . . I was eventually and completely stripped of the ability to make even the most basic decisions in my own life.”
Rooney has alleged that he was physically and financially abused by his stepson.
Family members, attorneys, physicians, ministers, and financial advisors should be on the lookout for such abuse. Furthermore, prosecutors should take financial abuse cases more seriously. Prosecution is the only real remedy if the money has been stolen and spent. At that point, civil litigation is often impractical.