The Hidden Truth About Adult Protective Services
In all the proposed rules by Finra and the SEC to address financial exploitation of seniors, advisors are urged to report suspected abuse to the local Adult Protective Services or to call the police. Unfortunately that is not always a solution.
There seems to be a lack of clarity about how things work. Here’s a typical scenario that illustrates an issue.
Myra is 87 and her daughter, Lexie has been taking advantage of her for years. Myra feels sorry for her daughter because she can’t seem to hold a job. Never mind she has a drug habit. Myra has means and she often gives Lexie “loans” that are never repaid.
Lexie gets a power of attorney from Myra, goes with Myra to her financial advisor and tells the advisor that Myra needs $80,000 for a trip they are going to take. Myra is disabled and never travels. The advisor knows this. Advisor decides after seeing several of these demands for withdrawing Myra’s funds under suspicious circumstances that Lexie is abusing Myra. The total amount withdrawn at Myra’s request is over $150,000 in six months, which is highly unusual.
Advisor calls the police. They refer her to Adult Protective Services. APS takes a report over the phone, asks questions and then asks Advisor to fill out a report form. She fills it out and reports the recent questionable $80K demand and withdrawal and she lists the total taken of $150K. She puts Lexie’s name on it as the person suspected of financially abusing Myra.
APS sends a social worker out to investigate the complaint and to visit Myra at home. Myra finds the worker to be very nice and they chat. “Has your daughter ever pressured you to give her money?” the worker asks. “No”, says Myra. “Do you remember giving her gifts or loans totaling $150K this year?” the worker asks. “I don’t think I did that” Myra says. The worker asks if she is in the habit of giving money gifts to Lexie and Myra says yes, that Lexie is her daughter and she needs some help sometimes. The worker concludes that giving money to Lexie is what Myra wants and the case does not go any further. No one has tested Myra to see if she is competent to understand the consequences of giving her assets to Lexie, particularly since she has two other adult children.
In this case the facts are not clear enough to prove that a crime was committed. APS will not recommend that Lexie be prosecuted because even though giving away money is not in Myra’s best interests, she is assumed to be competent to do so. In this case APS is not solving any problem and takes no further action. If Myra did not want the funds to be given to Lexie it would be different and elder abuse could be proven perhaps. As is there is too much doubt about Myra agreeing to be taken advantage of by Lexie, no prosecutor could meet its burden of proof.
The Other Option
Lexie’s other two siblings were not initially aware of the abuse by Lexie. Their potential inheritance is directly affected by their sister’s actions and when they find out they call APS also. The case is closed and they get nowhere. They are furious.
They consider another option. If there is no crime here that can be proven, there may be a civil case. They contact an attorney who handles civil cases of elder financial abuse. The attorney does an investigation and finds out that Lexie has bought a condo with the money taken from Myra. The attorney successfully proves that Myra was duped by Lexie and the matter is settled by Lexie’s attorney agreeing to sell the condo and give the proceeds back to a fund set up for Myra in case she needs more cash as she ages. And the settlement agreement says that Lexie will inherit no part of the fund. Further, the power of attorney Lexie got is torn up and Myra appoints a more responsible agent, another daughter who now oversees all of Myra’s finances.
With a misunderstanding of how law enforcement works, there is a belief that all one must do is report to APS and somehow, financial abuse will be stopped. But when APS finds insufficient proof, or a wiling victim like Myra, they do not intervene. They are essentially an arm of law enforcement. A civil case is outside their sphere and a civil attorney must be consulted to explore whether one can pursue that possible way of recovering an elder’s assets that have been wrongfully taken.
The important thing to know here is that APS is limited in what it can do. A criminal case of any kind has to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Any advisor who wants to keep senior clients safer needs to understand that a willing victim will pretty well destroy a criminal case of abuse. A civil case is a possibility as long as there is an asset (in Lexie’s case, a condo) to get. One should know a competent elder abuse attorney to consult and find out if your client has that choice in taking legal action of if her heirs do.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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