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Woman took $20,000 from 92 year olds man's live savings

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by jeffareid, Jan 19, 2007.

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  1. jeffareid

    jeffareid Law Topic Starter New Member

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    This incident took place in Anacortes Washington. My wife and I now live in California. My wife's dad moved from Anacortes Washington to live with us on January 15.

    Summary:

    My wife's dad, George was living with a lady named Hattie for most of the last 23 years. Hattie took $20,000 out of his life savings of $50,000 the day he left her home to move in with us (because of failing health and dementia). She claims to have a note authorizing her to take the $20,000, dated on the day before he left.

    Based on her lawyer's description, she wrote and had him sign (two different handwritings), but George is unable to write legibly and requires someone hold his arm so he can write, so I suspect forgery; this will be confirmed when receive a copy of this note from the lady's lawyer. Because of severe dementia, George is incapable of being able sign any document wihout a witness to confirm he's coherent enough to understand what is going on. When asked, George stated that he never authorized this lady to take any money from his bank accounts. He also repeated the statement that he never authorized this woman to take any of his money to Hattie's lawyer.

    This is a woman that owns a home worth over $400,000, and had several hundred thousand in her banking accounts. George was aware of this and knew she didn't need his money. However this woman has exhibited extreme greed the entire time I've known her.

    Any advice would be welcome here, as well as a referral to a good attorney in the Anacortes, Washington area.

    History:

    My wife's dad, George, has been living with this woman, Hattie in her home in Anacortes Washington for 23 years. While George was living with Hattie, he added her to his bank accounts so she could do the banking for him, since his mental and physical health prevented him from doing so. The arrangment was for Hattie to only take out money for rent, and the monthly expenses. This was basically a verbal agreement that she would act as a trustee for George.

    6 years ago George suffered a stroke, and should have had full time nursing care, and this was to be paid using George's savings. Hattie refused to give George the proper car of a full time nurse, stating that it was too expensive (although this is George's money paying for the care). She limited the nursing to about one day per week, and was constantly firing the nurses. The last nurse he had there stated that due to deteriorating mental and physical health he needed to move to our home, as he was not getting the proper care at Hattie's home. When he arrived, he was not able to speak coherently, and was virtually imobile. Over time, with the proper care he needed, his condition improved, and he wanted to move back to live with Hattie. She was made aware of the fact he had had been diagnosed with dementia and needed nursing care, since he had limited mobitility (for example, he can barely walk with a walker, and can't raise his arms above his chest).

    Once there, Hattie added her name to both Georges checking and unknown to us, his savings accounts. George would not have the mental ability to realize that Hattie was putting her name on both accounts. There was an outstanding agreement since George first lived with Hattie that Hattie was only to be taking money from George's account to colllect rent, half the bills (food and utilities), and for the nurses.

    The cycle repeated again, with Hattie refusing to have a nurse in her home for more than about once a week, yet constantly complaining about the fact that George could not take care of himself. Due to a combination of aging and improper care, George's mental and physical health deteriorated again, with another nurse stating that he needed to move out of there because of the improper care. We decided to relocate George to live with us in California again. The final arrangements were made to fly him out here on January 15, 2007.

    When my wife took her dad George, to a local branch to transfer money to the local branch, we discovered that Hattie had taken $20,000 from Georges bank account. She did this via two telephone orders of $10,000, apparently to hide any reporting to the IRS by the bank.

    When asked about this she claimed that she had a note, dated January 14, 2007, the day before he left, that George was giving her $20,000 for the care she gave him. When contacting her lawyer, he stated that the handwriting on the note was different than the handwriting on the signature. When we opened a new account for George here in California, we realized that he was unable to write without assistance. Someone had to hold his arm and spell his name for him, and the writing is illegible. Bottom line, I suspect forgery. We are supposed to receive a copy of the note from Hattie's lawyer in the mail. Also, Hattie has been signing checks from George's account as George, not as herself.
     
  2. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    Set up a guardianship for pa.

    Then have the guardian sue the woman in Washington.
     
  3. jeffareid

    jeffareid Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My wife is getting a power of attorney for her dad. Is a guardianship different? I'll investigate. Thanks for the help.
     
  4. jeffareid

    jeffareid Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We're in California. What is the process for doing this (a court visit, doctor's statement required?), and where can I find the appropriate forms?

    Can we sue for legal cost as well as the $20,000? Can we sue for punitive damages (which we would designate to be donated to a charity, preferably one related to elder abuse)?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2007
  5. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    A guardianship is ordered by the court; a power of attorney is a document prepared by a private person.

    You can sue for whatever you want; I don't know if you will win or not.
     
  6. jeffareid

    jeffareid Law Topic Starter New Member

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    In California, the process is called a conservativeship. We may start that.

    A follow up. Based on the advice of an attourney, we contacted Adult Protective Services, which will interview George. In addition, a doctor will examine George to confirm his dementia, the lack of ability to understand a contract (actually, he's at the point where he can barely read, and can't comprehend what he's reading even immediately after). His doctor in Washington may be able to confirm the same dementia condition based on examinations over the past few years.

    The power of attorney wasn't possible because of the same issue with dementia. Since he didn't understand what was going on, they couldn't issue my wife a power of attorney. When asked, he didn't know what day of the week it was, who was President of the USA, could barely read, and couldn't repeat what he had just read. He could be told what day of the week it was and who the President was, and in just moments, couldn't remember those facts again.

    > you can sue for whatever you want ...

    I know we can sue for the actual loss, legal fees, but I was wondering if there was a standard for punitive damages, like 1 to 3 times the cost of the actual loss, depending on how criminal the original action was.

    As soon as we get the results from the doctor, and the interview from Adult Protecive Services, we will decide on how to continue.

    Thanks for the help so far.
     

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