Lakeshore Legal Aid
Clients: (888) 783-8190
What is Senior Exploitation?
Senior exploitation occurs when an individual or institution utilizes undue power over an individual over the age of 60 in order to gain an advantage over that person, either through control of finances or decision making. Seniors may be especially vulnerable to exploitation due to dependency upon family members and caregivers. During the current economic crisis, Lakeshore Legal Aid has seen an increase in the number and severity of cases involving senior exploitation.
What can be done to avoid senior exploitation?
Seniors need to be especially careful in determining whether giving control over finances or decision making, and to whom to give these powers, is appropriate for their situation. While no one wants to believe a family member or caregiver would take advantage of one’s vulnerability, it does happen, and the effects can be devastating. Before signing any documents involving a transfer of power, consult an attorney.
Late Life Domestic Violence: A later-in-life domestic violence survivor came to us twice to help us deal with her abusive ex- husband’s attempts to use the court system and harass her. The 72 year old client had been married for 30 years. As part of her divorce settlement, her ex husband was to pay all mortgage and heating costs until the marital home sold. The ex-husband simply stopped paying, and the 72 year old poverty client was left without heat or water in January. Lakeshore filed an emergency motion with the Court and the ex-husband was ordered to bring the bills current immediately. Shortly thereafter the client’s ex-husband petitioned the court for a judicial auction asking, through his attorney, that the home and its contents (including some of the clients treasured possessions) be sold at bargain basement prices. Lakeshore again intervened on behalf of the emotionally distraught senior and the motion was denied. Lakeshore also assisted the client in obtaining a personal protection order and counseling services from the local domestic violence shelter. The client was deeply grateful as a result.
Financial Exploitation by Creditors: Several years ago, an 85 year old poverty client became deeply in debt when she began to charge medical expenses on her credit card. At that time, she sought legal advice from Lakeshore and was advised that her meager social security could not be garnished. Five years later, despite being a poverty client, the woman managed to save $5,000 on her meager income; a sum she intended to use for home repair costs. The credit card company filed a garnishment and the entire $5,000 was seized by the bank. Lakeshore went to court with the woman (who is wheel chair bound) and successfully argued that the bank was holding non garnishable income. The entire sum was returned to the senior and the client called the next day, saying she had the first night’s sleep she had had in weeks.
In early August Lakeshore received a phone call from a woman who did not leave her name on the message, only the phone number for her friend. She was afraid her daughter may be listening in on the conversation as she often did when client was on the phone. Client’s daughter has lived with her (and husband) for 16 years now.& Client’s husband died in 2004 and since that time client’s daughter began to verbally abuse client. Daughter told client that the state would take her home if she ever went into a nursing home and got client to Quit Claim the home from just client’s name to client and daughter’s name. Client had endured unbelievable verbal abuse for years from her own daughter. Client often stayed locked in her room and would not eat just so she would not have to deal with her daughter and her abuse. This past May daughter married and son-in-law moved in to client’s home as well. He punched client in the arm and left a horrifying bruise on client’s arm. The Prosecuting Attorney’s office is involved. It finally got to the point where client left her home and went to her one and only friend’s home. Lakeshore was successful in the quiet title action and the senior was able to move back into her home of many years. Lakeshore also helped the client a personal protection order to help her become and stay safe.
Because Justice for Some is No Justice at All.