Abuse, 2001). Alternatively, negative attitudes toward persons identified as likely heirs may motivate the perpetrator to act to prevent them from acquiring the elder person’s assets (National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). Because of a prior negative relationship with the elder person, the perpetrator may feel a sense of entitlement to these resources as payback for prior exploitation or abuse (Dessin, 2000; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). The perpetrator may be motivated by a sense that he or she should be reimbursed for having carried a substantial care-giving burden for the elder person (Dessin, 2000). The perpetrator may conclude that the elder person has more assets than needed and the perpetrator has too few, and thus the perpetrator is entitled to a share of the elder person’s assets (Quinn, 2000). Also, an intricate relationship may exist between elders and their caregivers. Older people, who may no longer place as great a value on their material possessions, may give gifts as a means of maintaining a power balance in their relationship with the caregiver. At the same time, the caregiver may indicate that such gifts are necessary if the elder person wishes to retain the caregiver’s attention and assistance (Quinn, 2000).

When such motivations are present, a perpetrator may read into an elder person’s words or behavior consent to a conveyance that a more objective perspective would not. The recipient of a gift may argue that the elder person provided implicit or explicit indications that the individual be given certain assets. When consent to a transfer of assets has been clearly provided and is not induced by fraud, duress, or undue influence, many assets can be transferred on a relatively informal basis.19 Because of the informal and private setting in which such transfers were purportedly made, the transfers may be the subject of good faith disputes but not represent financial abuse. However, individuals with the motivations described above may report consent to a transfer by an elder person that was not given or was not clearly provided, or attempt to induce this consent by fraud, duress, or undue influence.

Nonrelative perpetrators have been found to include career criminals in the business of defrauding others in general and elders in particular, while others were overcome by greed under the circumstances (Choi et al., 1999). It has been observed that many exconvicts become paid caregivers for vulnerable individuals, a practice that goes unchecked because most states do not require criminal background checks and do not prohibit persons convicted of certain crimes from working with the elderly (Nerenberg, 2000c).

19  

Certain assets, including real property, require more formal means of conveyance such as written documentation of the transfer in ownership.



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