Posts Tagged ‘elder abuse’

Elderly Legal Professionals Vulnerable as Other Elders

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Regular readers of this blog are aware that my interest in Elder Law issues lead to The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Clientrather than the reverse. Of special importance to me is the unique role the legal team has in spotting elder abuse. Relating this particularly to paralegals I’ve noted their unique position to intervene especially when that abuse is caused by an attorney. Today’s post relates, however, to the vulnerability of the elderly that exists even when the elderly person is an attorney.

I have no information in that regard that a paralegal could have noticed or done anything to prevent the events on which this post focuses, but I include it today nevertheless primarily because it illustrates the point that members of the legal team are not exempt from the vulnerability that comes with aging:

Man Gets 46 Years in Elderly Ex-Lawyer’s Slaying, Expected to Testify Against Ex-Client Co-Defendant

Keith Allen said he held Carl Kuhn’s wrist until he could no longer feel the 82-year-old man’s pulse as a trusted ex-client, Terry Bratcher, allegedly held a pillow over the former Illinois criminal defense attorney’s face in his suburban Chicago home one day in 2009.

That was enough to support the 22-year-old Allen’s first-degree murder plea earlier this year, for which he was sentenced Monday to 46 years in prison, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Allen is expected to cooperate and potentially testify in the state’s case against Bratcher, 44, who is awaiting trial. Authorities say he and Bratcher went to Kuhn’s home near Barlett to steal firearms from his gun collection, but suffocated him to death when he refused to give them the code for his locked safe.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Client Charged With Killing Lawyer; Death At First Thought Natural”

Fair warning to students in my fall class, “Law and Aging:” you will benefit from reading all posts in the “Elder Clients and Elder Law” category!

When the client marries at age 85 and in ill health…

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

A number of posts here lately have dealt indications that our elderly clients are being abused and the paralegal’s role in being aware of those indications. The most recent post noted that on occasion the issue arises out of conduct of the attorney with regard to the client. As if to emphasize my point, there’s this from Legal Profession Blog today:

A story posted today at SFGate.com describes a recent California disciplinary action:

A veteran Pacifica attorney is facing disbarment for allegedly duping an 85-year-old client into giving her $339,000, entering into a sham marriage with him and ignoring his will by having him cremated after his death.

Linda Lowney “took advantage of a lonely, sick old man” and thwarted his intent to transfer his estate to his nieces, Judge Pat McElroy of the State Bar Court said Friday.

She ordered the immediate suspension of Lowney, who has practiced law since 1978 and had no disciplinary actions on her record. The disbarment could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, but Lowney’s attorney, Jonathan Arons, said Tuesday he had little hope that such an appeal would succeed, despite his disagreement with the ruling.

“I think they (the court) misunderstood the relationship,” Arons said. “This was a marriage.”

The attorney was 54 when she married a man who was “85 and in poor health.”

According to SFGate:

Lowney also sued for a share of Tollefsen’s estate. A state appeals court ruled against her in 2009, suggested “financial abuse of elders” was involved and referred the case to the State Bar.

While I have no knowledge other than this, I suspect a paralegal was a witness in these matters!

h/t ABAJournal.com who notes:

Back in 2002, Linda Lowney drafted a will for her client, Thor Tollefsen, that provided for his estate to go to his sister and two nieces in Norway.

But by 2005 the 54-year-old California attorney had become involved with Tollefsen, 85. He gave her $339,000, with his nieces’ consent, and the two got married in January 2006, using a confidential license, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Release Party Invitation

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Today is the official release date for The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client. Despite my Oxford, Mississippi, connection, the release party will not be of the John Grisham variety. We start with the Philosphy Forum Series on the OleMiss Campus for a lecture entitled “The Authority of Empathy,” then one of the local establishments for a quick pint and other nourishment with the local bar association followed by the 6th Annual Japan Foundation Film Series: Japanese Films of the 1960’s event showing “The Fort of Death.” Feel free to join in the fun

Or you could spend your time productively by ordering a copy of the book. (I know this is simply blatent self-promotion, but what’s the point of having a blog if I can’t plug my own stuff.)

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client
by Robert E. Mongue

2010 • $38.00 • 328 pp • paper • ISBN: 978-1-59460-795-0 • LCCN 2010025542

Order now with 10% Internet Discount

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Elder law is a dual-natured creature and in many ways is quite unlike any other area of law. Substantively the law is law – statutes, cases, rules, and regulations – all of which must be researched, analyzed, understood and applied. Unlike any other type of law, however, elder law is not about something a client is going through, such as a divorce, bankruptcy, a real estate transaction, or even a criminal charge. Elder law is about whom and what the client is – an elderly person. The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client enhances understanding of elder law clients, the laws applicable to them, and the issues they face.

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client examines the many influences on elder clients and their families, the deeply personal perspectives which result from those influences, and how they affect the decisions elder law clients make. It focuses on awareness and understanding of the elder client, explaining in clear language the dual nature of the elder client, the physical and psychological changes that occur as we age, and the practicalities of accommodating these changes when working with elderly clients. It also examines:

  • Issues surrounding competency, as well as the need for and methods of documenting competency in the file.
  • Dealing with the client’s family, including conflicts of interests, confidentiality and undue influence.
  • Perspectives, many culturally or religiously based, on aging, death, and dying.
  • Intestacy, estate planning basics, and the use of basic estate planning tools to meet client goals.
  • Advanced directives and other means of planning for end-of-life decisions.
  • Social Security, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid and other public benefit programs and laws directly affecting the elderly.
  • Elder abuse and the conflicts that may arise between the attorney/client privilege and mandatory reporting statues.
  • Ethical dilemmas faced by the professionals who work with the elderly.

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“Mongue’s book does not cover the ho and the hum of regular ‘how-to’ paralegal books. In fact, what he covers should be taught in every school regardless of specialty, profession or even age. Here, Mongue deals with our feelings about aging and the myths, stereotypes, cultural prejudices and extrapolations to the general population based upon personal experience. He draws you in as he explains behavior and the aging process and teaches you how to react as a result. As it turns out, much of what we think about the elderly is wrong, wrong, wrong.” — Chere Estrin, Editor-in-Chief of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and SUE, For Women in Litigation; Chairperson of the Board, The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP)

“[A]n insightful guide that any legal professional who works with an older population will find extremely useful. Mongue brings his extensive expertise both as a practicing lawyer and a paralegal instructor to the table, and illustrates his points with interesting examples. He discusses the complexities of the law in regard to aging in a clear, direct style that readers of all experience levels will appreciate. This book is a must-read and a valuable desk reference for anyone who interacts with elder clients.” — Lynne J. DeVenny, Co-Author of Workers’ Compensation Practice for Paralegals and blogger at Practical Paralegalism