Elder Financial Abuse in California: Placing Trust In Others That Is Often Broken
California Attorney J. Niley Dorit
J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice represents those injured by elder financial abuse, has seen many situations in which the person who has taken advantage of the elder is someone whom they trusted. He explained:
Trust is a big issue here. In many cases, friends, family or somebody who the elder has known for a number of years are the ones abusing them. I hear over and over again how the person who was abusing them was someone they would frequently have dinner with or that they knew them for many years and were friends. It's emotionally very painful to discover that someone you thought you knew, and trusted, could do this to you.
Friendships and longstanding relationships are one thing, but when there starts to be substantial amounts of money involved, sometimes those relationships unfortunately change.
Why victims are often embarrassed
There's a sense of embarrassment by the elder that they were naïve to trust that person, according to Dorit, who says that he often hears that the person was their friend, that they were helping them, that they attended the same religious services and worst of all, that they referred other people to them. He told us that the classic example of the century is the Bernie Madoff case. Dorit explained why people are embarrassed:
You know, where you have elderly people, theres a social network, people trust each other, theres a community of people who have know each other for years, the likelihood of referring the abuser to others is common.
So, when something like that happens, theres a lot of awkward social relationships that then get twisted out of shape. It can be an emotionally charged situation. However, its exactly those relationships that have been violated and offended when theres a financial abuse that occurs.
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