Topic: Elder Law
Q: Mother is elderly living in a nursing home. Severe dementia, however not ruled as incompetent by a court (because it was never an issue before…). Relative in another state passes and evidently my mother was a beneficiary to her life insurance policy. When this relative passed, they sent paperwork to my mother to file the claim. My brother (who is estranged from the family but does visit her) somehow got this claim information. No one else, including myself, knew anything about it. He files the claim, gets her to sign it, a check is issued. I learned of this by finding some random paperwork in her room and researching. After talking with the insurance company and providing my POA they tell me the check was cashed BY HER (I saw a copy, it’s indeed her signature) to a bank account I know nothing about. My assumption is that he ‘added’ her to his bank account and had her deposit the check in it. I called the bank, they won’t talk to me without a court order even with the POA. I know crimes have been committed, but I’m not sure where to start. APS? Police? If she signed it ‘willingly’ is there even any crime since she is not ruled incompetent by a court?
A: Calling Adult Protective Services and the police are good starts. Also, as soon as possible, get an opinion in writing from her doctor that states at the time the check was signed she was incompetent. If you cannot get any resolution through APS or the police, hire a lawyer. The lawyer will determine what actions are necessary to have the money returned. It could be as simple as a letter to your brother. It could be more protracted and require court action and a court order.
ELDER LAW, INCOMPETENT, FRAUD, FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION