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A reality that sometimes needs addressing: elder financial abuse

She said she simply loved him.

An individual now serving as guardian for the allegedly beloved individual says that, "She was trying to pick him clean."

A judge sided with the latter opinion, sentencing a woman on trial before her on theft charges to two years in prison late last month. The defendant was also ordered to pay back nearly $66,000 to her victim as restitution for the fraud committed upon him.

The recently concluded case is a sad though too-often typical tale of what occurs across the country to many aged and mentally challenged Americans living alone.

"It's all about vulnerability," says a spokesperson for the national advocacy group Elder Justice Coalition.

In the instant case, the woman approached her victim in public, befriending and subsequently marrying him -- all within a week and despite a quarter-century gap in their respective ages.

And within a period of days, noted the Washington Post in a recent article on financial exploitation of the elderly, criminal investigators were questioning her.

The reason why was clear enough, to wit: She had already withdrawn more than $50,000 from his accounts and would reportedly have taken many thousands more, were it not for banking officers who were suspicious and notified law enforcement officials.

The victim has been diagnosed with dementia and depression, and now has a legal guardian watching over his financial affairs.

The story underscores the hard reality that calloused con artists seek to profit virtually any way they can, including through attempts to financially exploit those with obvious vulnerabilities.

It also serves to educate, though, as well, and to send a timely reminder to many families in California and elsewhere that they might reasonably need to address select elder law concerns involving one or more loved ones with a proven estate planning attorney.

Elder financial abuse is a pernicious and flat-out scourge. It can also be effectively addressed through sound and tailored planning.

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