Have you noticed a sibling suddenly showing more interest in your elderly parent, perhaps even moving in with mom or dad to “take care of them”? Do you have concerns about their intentions? Unfortunately, your concerns may be warranted.
In Oregon, financial and physical abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable people rose to such a level that legislators created a civil cause of action with triple damages to discourage such actions. It is called the Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act (Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 124). This Act includes specific protections for anyone 65 years of age or more, and certain other individuals that fit the definition of “vulnerable.” Abuse under this statute can include financial or physical abuse and includes neglect and emotional abuse.
What are the signs?
Financial abuse of an elderly or vulnerable person can take many forms. You may notice secret appointments to change their estate plans, a sudden change in gifting or unexplained payments to family members or caregivers, or a change in who they choose to surround themselves with. Sometimes, family members realize something is amiss when bills go unpaid when there should be plenty of funds available to pay them. This could be a sign of cognitive decline or that someone has interfered with their finances (or both!).
The abuse itself can also take many forms, including moving into a parent’s home without their consent, taking money or property, coercing a vulnerable person to make a new will or trust, or promising to take care of them or their heirs in exchange for large gifts of money or property.
Trust your gut
If you have suspicions of abuse or neglect, reach out to the Oregon Department of Human Services to report your concerns and initiate an investigation. Deadlines to file claims may be limited by the statutes of limitations, so do not delay. You may also want to contact an experienced attorney to prevent further losses and to evaluate the options available to you and your loved one to recover their assets. If your loved one has already passed, there may still be legal avenues available to make it right.
Contact a professional
Wool Landon has been protecting vulnerable adults for decades. Experienced estate planners and fiduciary litigation attorneys are standing by to help you protect your loved ones and their assets.