By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a NJ Elder Abuse Attorney
Elder abuse is more prevalent than many are aware of. Such abuse can take many forms, but is becoming more popular in the form of financial abuse. It is important for both elders and their loved ones to be aware of such abuse and always be on the lookout to help prevent it.
One recent case of financial elder abuse involved a mom, receiving a large amount of money as inheritance upon the death of her husband, moving to live with her son and his wife. The son set up a joint account for the inheritance and pledged to use the money to help care for his mother. Unfortunately this did not end up being the case, as the son transferred a large sum of the money immediately to a separate account and then slowly drained the rest of the account until there were insufficient funds to care for the mother.
After the son and his wife separated, the son placed the money taken from the inheritance into an account solely in his ex-wife’s name. At the divorce proceedings, the ex-wife was awarded all of the money in the account. After the death of her mother, the daughter, sister to the defendant, filed a suit claiming elder abuse, but the son/brother claimed the money could not be touched since he no longer had it as it was in his ex-wife’s bank account.
The trial court held that both the son and his ex-wife were liable for elder abuse. They found that the funds were transferred to the ex-wife in the divorce proceedings with the intent to shield them from the estate of the deceased mother and that regardless of whether the divorce was done in good faith or not, the transfer was nonetheless considered fraudulent. The ex-wife was not able to defend herself by claiming the divorce was legitimate. The Court instead focused on the fact that the transfer itself was done to protect the money from any elder abuse suits and regardless of whether the couple decided to split up in good faith, the transfer itself was still fraudulent and therefore not allowed. The case was upheld upon appeal and the ex-wife was found liable for elder abuse along with the son, meaning the funds had to be given back and the former couple was forced to pay damages to the daughter of the abused. Elder abuse can take a number of forms. Always be on the lookout in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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