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Financial Elder Abuse Takes Turn As Nursing Homes Seize Patients Like Assets

Nursing Homes Force Debt Repayment by Seizing Patients in Strange New Twist on Financial Elder Abuse

financial elder abuseA new report has uncovered a terrible new form of financial elder abuse being committed by nursing homes, focusing on the Manhattan area of New York City.

The study, conducted by Hunter College and The New York Times, investigated 700 cases of guardianship cases filed in Manhattan in the last 10 years. In an astonishing 12% of those cases, the guardianship filings involved nursing homes requesting control over patients. In too many of those cases, the investigation found, the nursing homes were trying to force debt repayment as rates at the facilities began to rise beyond the means of the patients and their families. By gaining guardianship of the patient, the nursing home would gain control of the patient’s financial assets and therefore be able to collect all of the patient’s money and repay their debts. Unfortunately, this could not only hamper the elderly patient’s care, it could emotionally and financially undermine the family.

And, worst of all, this type of seizure is legal. However, it is still abusive, and financial elder abuse can severely affect the senior citizen involved, as well as their family.

A former employee at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, Ginalisa Monterroso, said this tactic employed by nursing homes is a “strategic move to intimidate,” and that nursing homes pursue guardianship “just to bring in money.”

This legalized financial elder abuse is the result of a New York guardianship statute dating back to 1993, called Article 81.

“While Article 81 guardianships are well-intentioned, the guardianship system is plagued by long delays and has little oversight, leaving a vulnerable population of older adults at further risk,” according to the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College. “In New York State, there is no consistent or reliable research data on guardianship proceedings or on the number of cases.”

Although the investigation focused on this type of financial elder abuse specifically in Manhattan, it could occur anywhere in the United States. A 2007 study conducted by the University of Kentucky found similar public guardianship statutes in at least 44 states, with 7 states having no specific public guardianship codes. Nursing homes can cost up to $50,000 per year, which many families cannot afford, even with Medicaid and Medicare assistance. This means asset seizure through public guardianship could become more common as more of the population ages.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Senior Citizens and Their Families against Financial Elder Abuse

Many states define exploitation as the wrongful use of an older person’s resources for another person’s profit or advantage. State laws use various terms to denote the wrongful nature of the act, such as “illegal,” “improper,” “unjust,” and “without legal entitlement.” Some definitions refer simply to the misuse of the person’s funds, property or person. Some states specify that, to qualify as exploitation, the resources must have been obtained without the older person’s consent, or obtained through undue influence, duress, deception or false pretenses.

Financial Exploitation includes:

  • theft and credit card fraud,
  • stealing identity,
  • using real estate for personal means, and
  • conning nursing home residents into purchasing a fraudulent service or product.

Financial exploitation might not endanger an older person’s health or safety, but it results in the loss of the person’s estate and self-esteem.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse or exploitation by your care facility, nursing home, caregiver, or a relative, contact us today. Come in for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers to discuss your situation and hear how we can help. 803.252.4800

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