Protecting the Elderly from Financial Fraud

Jack came to Faye’s law office looking to refinance his elderly father’s mortgage. When Faye asked him further, Jack presented a homemade power of attourney naming himself as his father’s representative. Suspicious, Faye contacted Jack’s father, who said he was confused, or just deferred questions to Jack. But when she asked him if he understood his son was taking out a loan against his house and he answered “No,” Faye refused to act in the transaction.

Real estate lawyers play a real part in protecting the elderly from being taken advantage of, even by their own families. Consider these best practices at your law practice:

  • Never lose sight of who you represent. If your client’s child or even spouse does all the talking, politely ask them to step out for a moment. Your client may feel more empowered to speak up one-to-one.
  • Bring your own translator. Be wary of family or caregivers translating for your elderly client. Have at least one meeting with a third-party translator to make sure your client can really understand and consent.
  • Verify power of attourney. Never take documents at face value and always make sure the power of attourney is valid and not being abused.
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