Spotting Caregiver Misconduct After the Death of a Loved One

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary, Probate, Probate Litigation, Wills & Estates. Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017

Unfortunately, there are people in this world that see the vulnerability of an elderly person as an opportunity. Financial exploitation occurs far too often in our society, and – even worse – it’s common for the misconduct to take place at the hands of a person that you trust to care for the victim. Loved ones may find out about the wrongdoing only after the person has passed away, when bank account proceeds, real estate, and personal property have already been diverted. Still, it’s not too late to take action. There may be options to pursue a person who has engaged in financial exploitation, but the key is recognizing the signs that demonstrate this type of abuse. An Ohio probate litigation lawyer can tell you how to spot these and other signs that someone took advantage of your loved one before his or her death.

Changes to Bank Account Structure

If there were certain types of account modifications or other activities by the decedent, this may indicate questionable conduct. Keep an eye out for:

  • Opening a joint account or adding the caretaker as an owner, followed by considerable expenditures from the account that don’t benefit the deceased; and,
  • Adding or changing the designated beneficiary on a pay-on-death (POD) account.

Joint and POD accounts fall outside the probate process, so a joint owner or beneficiary would assume control over all funds at the decedent’s death.

Altering Beneficiary Designation on Life Insurance Policies

Review the terms of a life insurance policy owned by the decedent to determine if there were any changes to beneficiaries in the period before his or her death. Like joint and POD accounts, life insurance policies automatically pass to the designated beneficiary without going through the probate process.

Amendments to Wills and Estate Planning Documents

A financial exploiter may convince a vulnerable person to change various estate planning documents, for his or her own benefit. In some cases, the caretaker may even make threats. A will is a common target for perpetrators who seek to inherit assets upon the executor’s passing, but there are many other documents involved with an estate plan. Look out for a caretaker that was made agent in a power of attorney over financial matters, which gives that person control over real and personal property.

Do You Recognize Any of These Signs of Financial Exploitation?

If you believe that your loved one was the victim of these types of misconduct before his or her death, it’s not too late to do something about it. However, proving wrongdoing and returning misappropriated assets is complicated under Ohio law. You face an uphill battle unless you retain a skilled attorney with extensive experience in probate litigation. At the Law Office of Mike Gertner, our lawyers have the in-depth legal knowledge and dedication to fight for your rights and pursue a wrongdoer for financial exploitation. Please contact us today at 614-463-9393 locally or toll free at 877-772-1011. We’re happy to answer your questions or set up a no-fee, no-obligation review of your case.