Would You Know What to Do If Your Elderly Client Was Being Abused?

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  1. I haven’t really thought about from this angle, but thank you for sharing this info and bringing it to light. With so many baby boomers coming to retirement age and with general population getting older, I’m sure this issue will become more prevalent . Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brian

    Hi Graham,
    Your article is on point and speaks to a situation I find myself right in the middle of. My client’s husband passed recently, and he was managing several properties. Well, she doesn’t want to and neither does any of the family. We used to work together, and she asked me list the other properties. Well, in steps grand-nieces and other family members who are telling her NOT to do it…but aren’t giving her any support for managing them….which she has repeatedly stated she doesn’t want to do.
    I had to remind them that SHE was my client and that my obligation was to address her wishes and desires. They bristled at this…which she confirmed to them. However, once I left her house…they obviously talked her into delaying to take any action….she is a kind soul and doesn’t want to “upset” her family…she called me and told me she wants to wait…there is a delicate balance between the relationships of family members.
    I spoke with my client and reminded her that when she was ready, that I was here for her…I’ll have to keep tabs on this…I’ll try to speak with the family to see what their concerns are, and to let them see that I’m only there to help her first and foremost…

  3. I had that exact situation just about 4 months ago. A land owner contacted me to list her property. I listed the property at a price that I thought was much too high but I wanted to honor the sellers wishes. Immediately, the homeowner to the rear of the land put an offer in. The seller countered at full price and the counter was accepted by the Buyer. On the day the Seller was supposed to sign her closing papers, I received a call from a family friend saying they decided they did not want to sell. The daughter who is a pediatrician then joined in with the family friend to stop the sale. I later found out from the mother who is 84 that she indeed would like to sell the land but her daughter had forced her into signing a power of attorney preventing her from doing anything without the daughters consent. It seems like elder abuse to me but I am one of those afraid to interfere. Should I contact one of the above agencies to see what they say?

  4. Graham Wood

    Hi Lorie,

    It can’t hurt to call the experts, tell them the story, and see what they have to say. They can certainly let you know what steps you can take to protect your client.

  5. Erick Williams

    Wow. I’ve never looked at things from this perspective. Very insightful Grant! Thanks for sharing this. I originally came on looking for information about reverse mortgages but learned alot more. I found a video today about reverse mortgages which was very helpful as well. I’ll share the link if you’re interested.


    Thanks again for the great post Grant!

  6. Given my volunteer work with Search and Rescue teams over the last 14 years and the work I’ve done with hospitals, I’m very aware of looking for elder (and other) types of abuse. It is my policy to report all cases of abuse to the proper authorities.

  7. I am an SRES Senior Specialist. An elderly friend called to ask if my husband/RE partner could come and read a new document his son had left for him to sign. He said he didn’t understand what he was signing. They read through the doc together and the son had refinanced his parents home and had taken all of the equity and put it in his own pocket. Dad and Mom were paying a mortgage of $3,000 per month. Friend said he thought the house was paid off years ago, but he guessed he would sign.
    He then called back and said his wife had been in the hospital and they wanted to go to assisted living, asking us to come and list the house for them. We asked if their son was on board and he exclaimed it was their house and they didn’t need his permission. We listed the house and got a buyer right away. The market was just beginning its descent and it would be a short sale that would get them out from under the heavy mortgage, with no cash in their pocket. The son showed up, had a fit and threatened us. Dad and son went to the bedroom to talk and when Dad came out, he said he knew they were in trouble, but “our son is family”. He was devastated, in tears and apologized 100 times. We reassured them, told them to call us if they needed anything and left. Within a short few months, both passed away and eventually the house was sold by the son’s friend who is a commercial agent in San Francisco, who had also threatened us. I now have the numbers of all local agencies who can do anonymous well checks and I am not afraid to use them.

  8. This is not just an elder issue – although that is a huge problem. There are greedy family members, realtors, developers and others who will take properties from people, and lie to get them. I have a client who was robbed of her property inheritance by another family member who went to court to swear there was no will. (There was a will leaving her the property.) Since she is not living here in Houston, and she has no financial means to fight this, we have had to find an expensive attorney on contingency. She will lose a lot of money no matter what. It is a long story, and a very bad situation, and I suspect one that happens more often than we know. I am working to help her. We need to be our clients advocates when we suspect foul play. I wish there NAR and our state Associations who could assist us with these things and perhaps there needs to be something at that level.

  9. These are all good points, but sometimes there’s another reason a family member steps in to make decisions on a property.

    I’m in the process of moving my 86-year-old mother into my house because she cannot afford to live on her own. She hasn’t made good financial decisions for years, and has blown through a nice chunk of money that would have created a comfortable income. She bought a new house ten years ago at the height of the market and got a pick-a-pay adjustable rate loan, which she proceeded to make minimum payments on until it reached its limit. The time came when she was no longer able to make the payments because she didn’t have the money.

    Rather than let it go to foreclosure and lose her equity, I sold the house for her on a wrapped loan. That means we used the underlying loan to create a new, seller-financed loan, allowing me to sell the home for her at a higher value. With the help of an expert attorney, we added 2% to the existing loan’s interest rate, creating an income for her on the spread. I manage it, and send her a check every month.

    The house is no longer hers, but the underlying mortgage is still there under her name – which, to an outsider, might seem like a bad thing. Instead, the income from this, along with her social security, is her only income. Not only does she get paid, the bank gets paid, the buyer is happy, and the neighborhood property values don’t suffer another foreclosure.

  10. Graham,

    Great topic, thanks for sharing. My good friend was dealing with this same issue recently. His brother who moved away years ago suddenly came out of the blue when he heard their father had a “lot” on the line and was I’ll. It’s sickening what people will do for money. I would like to think it’s a small issue but more people you talk to, the more your find out about these type of situations. Thank you for the insight.


  11. I was fortunate that when my dad fell ill a few years ago that we had the carport and the means to close it in and create an apartment for him right here at our home. My grandfather (his father) was in a home for a very short time until a family member arrived to visit unannounced and found him sitting in the hall in a wheelchair all by himself and lethargic, I know this is not the same, but elderly people suffer all kinds of abuses. We pulled him out immediately. I’m glad dad will be here where we can take care of him and not worry about abuse or neglect from anyone. If any of my siblings tried anything like that, they’d have a problem with me, but luckily he’s with me so I don’t have to worry about that. Thanks for the article, a lot of people don’t know this type of thing happens!

  12. Very good article. When you think about it with the amount of seniors who coming into age within this country, this is going to be a serious question.

    Mr. Wood makes a very good point at the end. For our elders within our family, we need to step up and be ready to protect them. Protect transactions as well as other issues which may arise.