Watch out for those estate planning attorneys! Linda Nell Lowney was an estate planning attorney for many years. In 2005 she became romantically involved with a client of hers, Thor Tollefsen.
Mr. Tollefsen was in his mid-eighties and 30 years older than Ms. Lowney, had emphysema and terminal cancer, and was using a walker when he married her in 2006. They married under a confidential marriage license that wrongly stated that the two were living together.
Shortly after they were married, Mr. Tollefsen complained to relatives that his wife was not taking care of him as she had promised to do and he began living in a senior care facility. When he died, his relatives discovered that Lowney had the remainder of the $340,000 that he had transferred to her less than 2 years earlier expecting that she would pay for his care with the money. Ms. Lowney had argued before the State Bar of California that she had been given the money as his girlfriend and not as his attorney.
Elder abuse can take a variety of forms. Family members, including spouses, can be guilty of elder abuse.
This can include the conditional and physical abuse that most people think of, as well as having the elder person directly give them assets; make them the power of attorney; and or rewriting estate planning documents to provide (more) for the abuser.
However, a lot of elder abuse is financial and committed by people who are not related or close to the individual. Caregivers make up the largest portion of these individuals. Obviously, they need to be screened. Agencies are helpful. However, they are not perfect. You need to talk to the candidate’s references.
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