Elder Abuse and Predatory Marriages

 

There was an interesting article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago (June 11, 12). In a column by Kelly Greene, she shed light onto a particularly troublesome topic: elder caregivers secretly marrying the person in his or her care, and as a result, taking a share or all of the estate of the elder individual.
 
In many cases, Green writes, the children of elderly parents had no idea that their parent got married! Scary.
 
Even if that new spouse isn’t written into the will, it doesn’t matter—they are always entitled to at least an elective share, or 1/3 of the estate in Pennsylvania. 
 
How do we combat this problem? The law is different in each state and is still developing. 
 
Green states some precautionary measures for a child of an elder parent to take:
  • Hire only someone who consents to a background check
  • Hire a professional to keep tabs on the individual caregiver
  • Stay in touch with your parent regularly if possible, even if you are not local