Wrongful Taking of Assets from Those Who Are Most Vulnerable

old-and-young-holding-handsA person is especially susceptible to the wrongful taking of his assets by another person when he is sick, elderly, or in an otherwise weakened state.  Family members, supposed friends, and caretakers might take advantage of a person while he is vulnerable or in a state of diminished capacity.  Such actions occasionally stem from long-held jealousies or perceived grievances among family members.  Other times, the financial wrongdoing occurs simply because the opportunity exists and the wrongdoer is motivated by financial gain. 

In such circumstances, the victim might not have the mental ability to understand what is happening.  The victim might trust the wrongdoer and genuinely believe that the wrongdoer is acting in the victim’s best interests.  A close family member or friend of the victim might need to take legal action on behalf of the victim to stop and correct the financial wrongdoing, if the victim is not capable of helping himself. 

Each of the following scenarios are examples of the type of wrongful conduct that would likely require legal action to stop and correct:

  • A son tricks his elderly mother into adding the son’s name to his mother’s bank account under the guise of helping his mother pay bills and manage the account. Instead, the son writes checks for his own benefit.  Moreover, most bank accounts that are in the names of two or more persons are typically owned by those persons as joint tenants with a right of survivorship.  Assuming that the account is a joint account with the right of survivorship, and the elderly mother dies first, the remaining funds in the account would belong to the son and would not be included in the mother’s estate.  This can happen, even if the mother intended for her assets to be equally divided between her children
  • A bookkeeper convinces her client to give her a financial power of attorney to allow the bookkeeper to write checks for the client, invest the client’s money, and otherwise manage the client’s finances.  Once the financial power of attorney is given, the bookkeeper gradually takes the client’s money in a way that no one will likely notice
  • A second wife takes advantage or her husband’s terminal illness by having him sign a new will that gives her a larger portion of the husband’s estate.  The wife has the husband sign the new will while he is heavily medicated and does not understand what he is doing.

If you suspect that a person is wrongfully taking or is wrongfully trying to take the assets of your family member or other loved one, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.  An experienced attorney can help you stop the wrongful taking of assets, trace the flow of money and other property that was wrongly taken, and obtain the return of the assets or financial compensation for the wrongly taken assets.  An attorney can also petition a court to invalidate a will, codicil to a will, or trust that was executed while the testator of the will or settlor (i.e., creator) of the trust lacked mental capacity to legally execute such documents.  An attorney can also petition a court to invalidate a will, codicil, or trust if it was executed as a result of fraud or undue influence by another.  The attorneys of Schklar & Heim, LLC have the knowledge and experience to advise and help you in such a situation.