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A Deep Dig Into Diminished Capacity For Alabama Trust And Estate Cases

Stop-Elderly-Abuse-300x300The New York Times recently published an article titled, How Deceptive Campaign Fund-Raising Ensnares Older People. The article has a Huntsville backdrop. The story involves a retired atmospheric scientist at NASA in Huntsville who passed away at age 90. Afterwards, his son Steve began sorting through his papers. That’s when Steve found 400 charges for various political fundraising campaigns. What? The charges were far beyond his father’s financial capabilities. What happened? The truth is that digital operatives use a variety of manipulative tactics to deceive potential donors, often focusing on elderly people.

It’s usually a scheme to exploit the diminished capacity of the elderly. Here is how it works. Some (usually fake) charitable organization targets an elderly person. The organization then bombards the person with calls or letters. The communications seek to scare the person into giving money. It extends far beyond politics.

We previously handled a Will Contest case in Decatur involving just this situation. A couple fake charities targeted the elderly person. These groups were very savvy. They knew his interests. And, they knew how to scare him into giving money.

I found this recent New York Times article interesting because of the subject — troubling payments to political and charitable groups. When we investigate a potential will contest or breach of trust case, we frequently look at the elderly person’s financial records. Why? These records can provide valuable evidence of the elderly person’s capacity to make decisions. They also provide evidence that may reveal undue influence from someone taking advantage of the situation. We often see troubling donations to manipulative, shadowy groups preying upon the fears of elderly people. Some of these groups are very savvy at targeting and manipulating their specific victims.

As I’ve discussed in some of my prior articles, our law firm does not write Wills or Trusts. We do not perform Estate Planning work. We recommend you seek a specialist to help plan for your family. Take some time and research attorneys to make sure you find a skilled one – not somebody simply advertising they do it all from DUIs to Estate Planning. Trust me, attorneys cannot do everything well. A jack-of-all-trades is a master of none. The lawyer who promises you everything from DUIs, to Estate Planning, to Divorces, to Personal Injury, probably does nothing well. Those lawyers are usually the least competent and least skilled for your case. Unfortunately, we have a few of them advertising for clients around northern Alabama. Your family deserves much better.

While we do not write Wills or Trusts, we are often hired to fight these disputes in court. That’s all we do — Pursue cases in court to recover compensation for injuries and damages suffered by our clients. We are trial lawyers helping people recover damages. Through the years, we’ve pursued breach of trust and will contest damage claims in courts across northern Alabama. These cases are unique because the “bad guy” is often a family member trying to take advantage of an elderly relative for selfish gain.

You can read some of my prior articles about trust and estate damage cases here on this blog. As our population ages and the need for long-term care increases, we have seen more and more of these difficult cases. You can read one of my articles at, A Rising Tide Of Damages In Trust And Estate Matters? In recent years, we’ve seen a rising number of cases where someone (often a family member) took advantage of their elderly relative. We’ve also seen a significant increase in personal injury and wrongful death claims involving nursing homes.

While we are looking for the evidence in financial records that indicates diminished capacity or undue influence, you should be aware of these shadowy groups. These groups may be targeting and calling your elderly loved ones. Pay attention. Make sure your elderly loved ones are not the target of some scam seeking to take advantage of them. Our elderly relatives deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

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The Blackwell Law Firm helps people who have suffered serious personal injuries or damages across Alabama.

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