Q: My dad’s accusing me of elder abuse for taking my mom to the bank getting out her money to go to the casino or do whatever she wants. I take her to bank to get the money she wants to go to lunch or casino and she’s helped me with my school loan as she did with my nephew by putting a $2,500.00 fence around his pool. She’s given me $2,400.00 towards my school payments. My dad says he’s putting me in prison if I don’t pay him $5,000.00 can he do this? She told him he’s out of line. (Latrobe, PA)
A: Your father can threaten to file criminal charges, but it doesn’t sound like a criminal case. I would need more information to determine if the police or the DA would file charges. On one hand, if your mother is competent to make these gifts, and she is under no undue influence or coercion to do so by you or anyone else, then her decision to make gifts is hers. On the other hand, if she is not competent or acting without clear capacity, and she is seriously depleting funds that your father and mother may need for their golden years, he has a legitimate concern. There are criminal statutes that protect the elderly or mentally infirm from being taken advantage of. Whether they apply to your situation I cannot say for sure without more information. Just based on what I hear, I am doubtful criminal charges may arise. However, if your father seeks legal advice, and an attorney believes your mother is not competent or being coerced to make these gifts, you could face criminal charges or a civil suit of some type including a restraining order or domestic abuse order.