Relationships with families can be challenging, especially with issues like inheritance, land division, and the distribution of valuable coin collections. Because of a senior citizen's age, cognitive impairment, or illness, a person may take advantage of them for financial gain.
Seek the help of an elder financial abuse attorney in Portland, OR, if you believe you or your loved one are a victim of financial exploitation or fraud. At Scannellaw, we will provide you with specific legal advice about your situation and zealously represent you in court.
Below are some legal concepts and factual cases to help you better understand elder financial abuse law. Contact us today for more information about our legal services and to schedule a consultation with our lawyer. Stay calm, and let us handle your case.
65 Or Older, Makes a Person Vulnerable in Oregon
In Oregon, people who are 65, many people considered "vulnerable." To be sure, many people this age or older are sharp as a tack. Others not so much. The idea is that there needs to be an age at which we say that person is "vulnerable" to others who have more power or are in better health. In Oregon, the legislature agreed it is 65.
Other Factors that Make Someone Vulnerable
While age is an essential factor and can be relatively easily determined, other factors can make a person "vulnerable." These include people who are sick, mentally ill, or disabled. There are other categories, but these are some of the main ones under Oregon law. They only need to prove they are "vulnerable," which is a much lower standard.
The Difference Between Being “Vulnerable” and “Incompetent”
There is a massive difference between legally "vulnerable" and "incompetent." If a person is incompetent in Oregon, they cannot have the intent to give a gift or make a will. In general, to be incompetent in Oregon, the person has to be, for lack of a better expression, "really out of it." The person does not recognize their family, they might not know what day it is, or they do not know the nature or extent of their property.
So, they might think they are poor when they are loaded. Someone like this needs a legal guardian appointed, and they have no business deciding on their property. The elder financial abuse statute makes It so that you do not have to prove or that person does not have to prove they are "incompetent." They only need to prove they are "vulnerable," which is a much lower standard.
Duty of Care
Another important idea in the law of elder financial abuse is what "duty of care" to certain people over 65 or who fall into the category of "vulnerable." The answer is that it depends on who you are talking about. This is important in Oregon because unless there is a "special relationship" between you or someone and the "bad person," and that lousy person causes only financial harm (a loss of money), there is no claim for mere negligence. You must prove fraud.
Fraud is hard to prove. Certain people in Oregon, by nature of their position or even birth, can owe someone a high duty of care. Lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, employers, accountants, family members, and others can owe people a higher duty of care than others. This duty is generally called a "fiduciary duty." This duty is thought to be one of honesty, loyalty, and generally putting the interests of the other before your own.
It is essential to know that bankers, mortgage brokers, and others in the financial services industry do not generally owe their clients a fiduciary duty. In many of these cases, the old law of the economic jungle, "buyer beware," applies.
Applying the Law to Some Facts
What does this mean? Assume your favorite rich aunt, who is 64 goes into the bank, and the bank advises her to put all her millions into a very low-interest rate "financial product" that ties up her money for years. The banker also gets a big bonus for this sale. He does not say anything false. In this case, neither you nor your aunt will likely prevail against the bank for negligence. The banker did not owe your aunt any duty of care.
Now, change the facts by one year. Auntie is now 65. She is now potentially vulnerable. You and Auntie might be able to sue the bank under the theory of elder financial abuse. Why? Because, in this case, the law in Oregon says auntie may be financially vulnerable. This is particularly true if she is not very knowledgeable about money matters.
This idea applies equally to family members, caretakers, and others who seek to take advantage of "vulnerable persons" in Oregon. So, if your evil brother John gets his dad, who is ill and over 65, to sign over the family farm just to him and leave the other children out, that can be an instance of elder financial abuse.
This is tricky because it is possible that your brother John is great and you and your other brothers and sisters are terrible people. In this case, dad could have just been doing what he wanted with her money. This is not easy. That is what lawyers can help you figure out.
Practical Things to Look for and Do
Suppose a family member or caretaker is not allowing other people to see the vulnerable person; that is a red flag. If someone has taken over all the vulnerable person's finances and is not allowing anyone else access to those records, that is a red flag. If there are threats of harm or actual harm, that is a "fire" and needs to be reported to adult and family services.
They have trained people who can come out and assess the situation for free and help protect the person immediately. Their number is (971) 673-2422. They cannot say who reported the issue. You can also contact a lawyer knowledgeable about these kinds of cases.
What Can a Lawyer Do?
Suppose dad wants to sue John, or his auntie intends to sue a banker over 65; they can. They might prevail. If your dad does, he can get three times the value of the family farm from evil brother John, and he will also have to pay attorney fees. In the case of the banker, auntie might get three times the value of the market interest rate or the value of prudent investments had the millions been put in some other more reasonable investment.
If you believe that you or your loved one is the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced elder financial abuse attorney at Scannellaw. We are proud to represent Portland, OR, and the surrounding area.
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who we are
Our mission is to achieve a resolution that is fair to you. Many times, people are afraid to complain, and they remain silent in the face of being taken advantage of by those in power. Sometimes, when we are the victim of fraud or other wrongdoing, we feel that we are to blame. Scannellaw is here to give you a clear vision of your legal situation and advise you on the best path forward.
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