Elder Abuse: When Aging Relatives May Need Their Own Superhero

Elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or associate of an elderly individual, which causes harm.[1] Financial elder abuse occurs when a trusted friend or family member obtains access to a senior’s financial accounts and uses the assets therein for personal gain. Unfortunately, this abuse is widespread in the United States and can happen to anyone, even the legendary creator of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee.

 

In December Stan Lee turned 95 years old. Although he remains in good physical health, Stan Lee, and his reported $50 million estate, became a prime target for elder abuse following the death of his wife, Joan Lee, last year. After Joan Lee’s passing, Kaya Morgan, a New York based memorabilia dealer, became Stan Lee’s primary caregiver. Subsequently, Stan Lee’s friends and family were concerned because Morgan prevented them from visiting Stan Lee. There were also suspicions Morgan was unduly influencing Stan Lee’s financial decisions. These concerns escalated when Morgan moved Stan Lee from his family home into a new condo monitored by private security hired by Morgan. Last week, Stan Lee’s former attorney and financial planner, Tom Lallas, filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order against Kaya Morgan.  On June 13, 2018, a Los Angeles County Court issued the temporary restraining order, pending a hearing on the case scheduled for July 6, 2018.

 

This far too common story may cause one to contemplate the best course of action if a relative or close friend is the victim of elder abuse. North Carolina law requires anyone suspicious of elder abuse to file an Adult Protective Services Report with the Department of Social Services in the county where the victim resides.[2] After an investigation, if the Director of Social Services finds the adult is the victim of elder abuse, they will notify the district attorney who will proceed with the appropriate criminal action.

 

Friends and family may also pursue civil remedies, such as a restraining order or a guardianship proceeding to protect the victim’s rights. If the victim does not have a guardian and is incompetent to manage his or her own affairs, the concerned parties may petition the court for a competency hearing and the appointment of a guardian.[3] If the alleged abuser is already the victim’s guardian, the concerned parties may petition the court for a hearing to remove the guardian.[4] If the clerk finds reasonable cause to believe an emergency threatens the victim’s physical well-being or their estate, the clerk may even order removal of the guardian prior to a hearing.[5] For more information on guardianship proceedings, please see our previous blog post which discusses these petitions in greater detail.

 

If you are concerned about a loved one’s well-being and feel they may be the victim of elder abuse or are in need of a legal guardian, please call us at (704) 457-1010 to schedule a consultation.  For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit our website at http://www.lindleylawoffice.com/.

[1] http://www.nccourts.org/Citizens/JData/Documents/Elder_Abuse_Awareness_Facts.pdf

[2] N.C. Gen. Stat. §108A-102.

[3] .C. Gen. Stat. §35A-1105.

[4] N.C. Gen. Stat. §35A-1290.

[5] N.C. Gen. Stat. §35A-1291.

 

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