Help Available to Foil Financial Exploitation
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
- The Oklahoman
by Paula Burkes
The Oklahoman received several calls and e-mails after Sunday’s story about financial exploitation of the elderly.
The youngest of five siblings, Robert Elrod, of Oklahoma City, said a brother during the past three years has misused a legal power of attorney to drain the financial accounts of their 85-year-old mother of several hundred thousand dollars, using the funds to pay off a personal mortgage and pay his sister to care for their mother.
"My sister and her husband need my mother more than my mother needs them. It’s disgusting,” he said.
In three years, Elrod said his mother has been moved to two different facilities and finally into a rental property with his sister. "My deceased father worked very hard as a family physician in Tulsa for 45 years, and he would have wanted the best for Mom,” he said.
Elrod contacted the Department of Human Services attorneys, Tulsa police and the Tulsa district attorney, all to no avail, he said. After spending $2,000 in resources, he said he’s through fighting.
Tulsa attorney Larre Sloan said he recently got a family guardian appointed for his wife’s 89-year-old grandmother, who has dementia and whose live-in son abused a power of attorney to tap his mother’s money for personal purposes and deed her property to him. The new guardianship, he said, will revoke the power of attorney and help void deeds and fix her bank accounts.
"We had a favorable result. However, we did it despite DHS,” Sloan said. "Our experience was Adult Protective Services did more to protect the alleged perpetrator than the victim.” Among other things, the case was delayed from 60 to 154 days, and investigators failed to read submitted bank accounts and detailed notes by the caretaker, he said.
On NewsOK.com, Tony, of Tulsa, wrote that he, as caretaker of his late dad, felt vilified by Adult Protective Services. "They didn’t have a clue, had never met my father, yet assumed everyone was out to get him. I did all I could for him, just to get accused of trying to hurt him and steal from him.”
DHS spokeswoman Beth Scott said the agency can’t comment on specific cases. "But people who feel they haven’t gotten sufficient answers, should call the director of the DHS office in the county in which the vulnerable adult lives,” she said.
County offices are listed in the phone book and on www.okdhs.gov.
Meanwhile, the Senior Law Project of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Inc. — (405) 557-0014 — offers free help with civil cases to seniors age 60 and older who live in Oklahoma and Canadian counties and can’t afford to pay for private attorneys.
Volunteer coordinator Sharon Ammon said the project can’t pay court costs, but those fees often are waived.
The nonprofit Senior Law Resource Center in Oklahoma City — (405) 528-0858 — offers seniors of any income level free advice and legal services on a sliding-scale fee. Executive Director Catheryn Koss said the center’s mission is to help Oklahomans age with independence, dignity and security by providing high-quality, affordable legal information, resources and services.