Choose Your Elder Law Attorney Wisely
Elder law is an area of law that addresses legal topics regarding older people. Such topics can include how to choose a place of residence after arriving at a certain age, options for healthcare in the event of illness or disability, long-term care, Medicaid coverage, Medicaid benefits, guardianship, and estate planning.
When seeking an elder law attorney, it is important to consider your options, and to consult a wide variety of sources of legal advice. Many elderly people have few resources available to them, and can easily be taken advantage of due to the fact that they often have few friends and family members. Some possible sources of elder law attorneys are the clergy, financial advisors, social workers, a trusted friend, and local agencies, including your state or local bar association, Social Security Administration, hospital or nursing home social services, and the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
It is imperative that you choose your elder law attorney wisely so that you don’t fall victim to the greed of some attorneys who have bilked their clients out of millions of dollars. One such attorney was working as an elder law attorney in New Jersey until it was discovered that she defrauded her clients by using phony powers of attorney, placing her name on the bank accounts of clients, and assisting clients with drafting their wills, after which she embezzled more of their assets when she served as executor of their estates.
However, no one suspected her of any wrongdoing because she paid for the clients’ immediate living expenses, and then awaited their death from which she could benefit. It was some information from the public guardian’s office that revealed the criminal activity, and led to an investigation.
She acted in cahoots with employees of a senior life care company managed by a former social worker. In many instances, her clients were without close family members who could intercede on their behalf to ensure that they were not being taken advantage of by their attorney. According to the government, the clients suffered huge financial losses due to the attorney’s fraudulent actions from 2006 to 2013. An example of their deceitful behavior, as was reported by the New Jersey Law Journal, occurred when the attorney and the former social worker took out a reverse mortgage of $195,000 on the home of a 94-year-old.
The attorney has pleaded guilty to money laundering, and will relinquish her law license, $3 million in frozen assets, as well as a BMW. A 10-year prison term was recommended by the state attorney general’s office, which means that she may serve fewer than four years.
That hardly seems like a sufficient amount of time for stealing millions from trusting, defenseless clients who were counting on her to act ethically and honestly. Perhaps if there were stricter measures in place to punish those who act unethically, and deceive clients in such an egregious manner, more attorneys and other professionals would be deterred from engaging in such dishonorable behavior.