Can elder abuse be reported after the elder has passed away?

4 answers | Last updated: Jan 30, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have discovered since the death 10 days ago of an elderly friend that the caregiver with POA paid herself a large amount of money just weeks before my friend's death. Is it too late to report it to anyone, and to whom should it be reported? No will has been been filed for probate as of today and I do not know who the administrator of the estate will be.

Expert Answers

There are several people whom you might want to notify about your concerns that the individual with the POA authority abused that authority. First, if and when an administrator of the estate is appointed, he or she should be informed. Part of an administrator's duties is to determine if any monies are owed to the estate, and if the POA took money improperly, the administrator should try to have it returned.

Whether or not an administrator is appointed, your friend's heirs or others to whom the estate was left should also be notified. If the POA person took money inappropriately, then these are the folks who are losing out. If they find out things that confirm your suspicion, they can take legal action to have the money returned.

Also, almost every county has what's called a "public guardian," a government office that handles or oversees financial affairs for vulnerable people, primarily elders. If there has been financial elder abuse in your friend's case, they may be willing to investigate it and to take action, if appropriate, to have the money returned to the estate. How much the public guardian will get involved will depend on their rules in the particular county where your friend lived, their budget, and whether or not there are heirs or administrators who are also looking into the matter.

Finally, there is the police. If you believe that the person with the POA authority simply stole a large amount of money, you can certainly notify the police. How far they will go in investigating the matter will depend on what they initially hear from you -- whether it sounds like there is strong evidence of a crime -- and how much money was taken, as well as whether there is someone else like the public guardian looking into the matter.

Community Answers

Ca-claire answered...

This is something that should be reported to the police. Since the friend has died, it may be difficult to prove that the caregiver 'helped' herself, but report it,if you have proof anyway.

Dkw answered...

I have lots of witness that will testify with statement notaries stamp

A fellow caregiver answered...

Absolutely! Yes, you certainly can report your findings but this may be tricky finding the right people if you don't know where to turn. I faced the same situation and I'm going through something very similar right now. The police in the area didn't seem to be of much help and neither did the APS. I spent so much time looking for a lawyer but none of which would help, and those who would even consider touching it wanted far more than the amount of available owed money and far more than my SSI was capable. If you don't know about the laws or even the ropes of the legal system, you may find yourself not knowing where to turn like I faced. What you want to do is contact your state bar association, (not your local one). It really helps to have all of your important documents and proof of what was documented. Now after contacting your state bar association, contact the lawyer you're given who specializes in your type of case. I don't know the time limit on how long you have before the door is forever shut, but once you have a lawyer you may be surprised that when they take your case, you may have all kinds of time. What I faced here is not yet knowing I had to sign some papers to have the estate opened. I got those papers signed and I'm waiting for things to happen. Where it started with me is the lawyer reviewed my case and when he took it, he found out questionable parties are noncompliant. We then had to take the next step and open an estate to subpoena from. This is where the signed papers came in handy because now we can force cooperation and force as many records as we need. If fraud really is the case as so many of us suspect, then someone's in deep trouble because they're not entitled to what they took, Especially if the elder had Alzheimer's. One thing to look for is look how close to death any life insurance policy beneficiary was changed. If the person had Alzheimer's, that will be mentioned on the death certificate. If the person with Alzheimer's suddenly changed their life insurance beneficiary only weeks before they died during a period of adult failure to thrive, this is only one example of something fishy, especially if the person never had a guardian when they should've. If the person with Alzheimer's only had a POA, big red flag! You can find out if a had a guardian and if there was a well just by calling the probate in the county where they died. This same probate is where you open your state for a fee. If you happen to be struggling below the poverty line and have certain needs that your small check camp otherwise cover, see if your lawyer can expedite your unique case (especially if you happen to be an abuse survivor who happened to be related to your abuser). Full blood relatives our top priority especially in such a unique case as what I'm going through right now. You'll have more of the upper hand if you happen to be the only one left as I am