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Financial Elder Abuse: “We’re Targets,” Says Advocate for Change

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Thousand Oaks, CAThere are many ways in which Financial Elder Abuse can happen. Financial advisors and product brokers can attempt to sell a trusting senior on a product that would benefit the broker in commissions, but amounts to the worst possible product for the senior given their stage in life. Family members can also take advantage, and family exploitation is a common thread weaving through elder abuse cases.

That’s what appeared to happen to June Glasmeier, a resident of Thousand Oaks, California. She told the Ventura County Star (10/22/13) that when her second husband of 31 years was ailing, the 81-year-old Paul Glasmeier met with his relatives and immediate family to sign financial documents. A notary attended. However, June Glasmeier, now a widow at 87, was not invited and the document her husband signed stripped his wife of her power of attorney over her ailing husband.

“I didn’t feel like his wife. I had no control, no power,” she told the Ventura County Star. “I couldn’t take care of him,” said Glasmeier, who fought to regain the power and won.

Now, Glasmeier has become an advocate for the elderly, fighting to have a bill introduced into the California state legislature that would require notaries to report elder abuse financial exploitation. The proposed statute made it all the way to the office of the Governor. However, Jerry Brown vetoed the proposed bill October 9, explaining that in his view notaries often have no more than fleeting contact with their clients. He suggested notaries would be better reached through programs that educate them on elderly financial abuse.

To that end, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) together with seven other agencies issued guidance to the banking industry across the country in September, urging tellers and front line workers at banks to never hesitate in the disclosure of a client’s personal information if fraud or other illegal activity is suspected as an addendum to financial elder abuse law.

Prior to that guidance, according to The Boston Globe (10/16/13), bank tellers were reluctant to divulge personal information with the view that it could constitute a breach of privacy - even in the face of suspected financial elderly abuse.

However, the director for the CFBP noted in comments in The Boston Globe that the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act allows for exceptions, based on common sense, in order to facilitate the reporting of suspected fraud or unauthorized transactions.

“Older Americans are all too often victims of financial exploitation,” said Richard Cordray, director of the consumer bureau.

“They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth - whether it is in retirement savings or home equity.” He said that financial exploitation of the elderly and fraud are the most common forms of financial elder abuse.

But it’s not the only example seen in elder abuse cases that involve financial transactions. And June Glasmeier knows that all too well.

The Ventura County Star reports that last year, a lone individual in a parking lot in California approached her and offered to repair a small dent in her Cadillac for $200 while she shopped for groceries. He then asked to be taken to an ATM machine to withdraw the necessary funds. But Glasmeier was suspicious. And besides, she didn’t have a debit card.

“Basically, it all comes down to money,” she said about elder exploitation. “We’re targets.”

For seniors who have been exploited, or for family members genuinely looking out for them, a financial elder abuse attorney can be very helpful in reversing serious financial exploitation, and pursuing a damage claim that could mean the difference between financial ruin, and a secure retirement.

READ ABOUT FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE LAWSUITS

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READER COMMENTS

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Here's another form of financial elder abuse that currently lives and thrives mostly in the darkness: unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships. In these cases, the very estates the proceedings are supposed to protect are devoured by the guardianship/conservatorship itself. And unfortunately, this action has become an appalling yet accepted event: judicially sanctioned financial exploitation.

Join the national movement for reform! Join NASGA!

Forewarned is forearmed!

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