Are there legal guidelines to help me determine the difference between a "helpful granny" and a "financially abused elder?"

Asked 11 months ago - Memphis, TN

I have become friends with a neighbor who is an elderly lady in her late 80's. She has confided in me that most of her retirement savings, over $100,000, has been parceled out to her four grandchildren over the course of the last few years. Even though all are in their twenties, she has kept most of them on an allowance of hundreds of dollars per month. Listening to her tell the many related stories, I have become increasingly alarmed by the emotional pressure being applied by her grandchildren and their unrelenting sense of entitlement. She recently confided that her savings are now down to less than 20% as a result. This seems criminal to me! Are there any legal guidelines to help me understand if I should report this situation as a financial form of elder abuse?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Kelly Scott Davis


    Contributor Level 19


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    Answered . If you believe she is being financially exploited by the grandkids, report the matter to Adult Protective Services. They will investigate. I would be concerned that by making these gifts your friend may be rendering herself ineligibile for Medicaid if she needs to go to the nursing home and apply for public benefits anytime during the next five years.

    Responses provided on Avvo are for general informational purposes only, based upon the limited information that is... more
  2. Arnold Garson Cohen


    Contributor Level 16


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    Answered . Your inquiry relates to a serious problem that is difficult to handle. You should act as promptly as possible. Engaging an experienced elder care lawyer in Shelby County is probably necessary. I would send to you a very fine outline of a presentation by Knoxville attorney Lisa Gammeltoft which I recently attended on this subject. If you send to me your email address and remind me in the email what you are seeking, then I can send it to you. Perhaps it will help. I cannot attach it to this answer or give you a link to it. However, the following are references and links to resources which are cited in it:


    1 Hall, Hall, Chapman, Exploitation of the Elderly: Undue Influence as a Form of Elder Abuse, Clinical Geriatrics, Vol. 3, No. 2, (February, 2005)

    American Bar Association, Committee on Law and Aging

    American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity, available on the ABA website

    Bennett Blum’s UI Web Page:

    Brandl, Heisler, Stiegel, Undue Influence: The Criminal Justice Response (YWCA Omaha, 2006), available on the ABA website

    Kruse, Think of Me as the Daughter You Never Had, NAELA News, August/September 2005. An excellent discussion of legal ethics and undue influence.

    These comments do not constitute legal advice. They are general comments on the circumstances presented, and may... more
  3. Lawrence A Friedman

    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If the facts "seem" like elder abuse report them to adult protective services to investigate.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law... more
  4. Gregory William Schulz

    Contributor Level 8


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The Tennessee Department of Adult Protective Services would be an excellent resource: This is exactly the sort of thin such departments typically deal with.

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