Is it illegal to make changes to a bank account of a person with Dementia/Alzheimer’s?

Q: How does victim proceed? For years, a lady had her only living relative listed as ITF (beneficiary) on her bank account. Now the lady has dementia. A distant friend filed for Conservatorship saying the lady isn’t mentally capable of managing her own finances, but withdrew the petition prior to the court date. Months later, the friend took the lady to the bank and removed the relative’s name from the account listing herself as ITF (sole beneficiary). Recently without the lady’s knowledge, the friend withdrew over $20,000 from the lady’s account, getting several cashier’s checks, leaving no monies to pay all of the lady’s monthly expenses. Per bank manager, friend had POA, funds shouldn’t have left bank and believes possible friend knows teller. Even if lady signed POA, she wasn’t mentally capable. Is any of this legal?

A:  If your information is accurate, it sounds like she is being taken advantage of and her money is being stolen. This is possibly a case of financial exploitation. Call the Department of Aging to notify them. They may schedule a home visit to assess the situation. A person who has “standing”, which takes too long to explain, is someone with an interest. A person with an interest, which is certainly a relative, can take action. It is possible this elderly person is being influenced or has signed a POA over to this “distant friend”. The interested person who comes forward can file a petition to freeze the accounts and for an accounting of all POA funds. Unfortunately, this involves hiring a lawyer, but may be the most expedient remedy. The lawyer can also advise if a guardianship is needed and can get it started.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.