Beloved Actress Nichelle Nichols Alleged Victim of Elder Abuse

Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek television series, finds herself in the midst of litigation at the age of 87. She is the alleged victim of elder abuse at the hands of her personal manager. The complaint tells a painful story of a vulnerable adult, surviving a stroke, dealing with dementia and short-term memory loss. She falls victim to social isolation, loss of financial and medical control, and even removal from a rehabilitation facility against medical advice.

Elder abuse thrives in the midst of secrecy and isolation. As a society, we must remain vigilant and keep our elders safe.

Report elder abuse in Oregon to the hotline at 1.855.503.7233.

Victoria Blachly: SYK AttorneyVictoria Blachly is a partner and chair of SYK’s Fiduciary Practice Group. 

Upholding Justice for Older Americans: Free National Webinar

June 15, 2020 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. You have the opportunity to learn from federal government leaders how they are seeking global solutions for elder abuse. The 90 minute free webinar starts at 10:00 AM on June 15.

Hope to “see” you there.

“Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.” – The United Nations 

Victoria Blachly: SYK AttorneyVictoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases and causes. She is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.

Oregon Legislature Corrects Procedural Hurdle in ORS 124.100(6) for Financial Elder Abuse Claims

Oregon Legislature Corrects Procedural Hurdle in ORS 124.100(6) for Financial Elder Abuse Claims

The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that 90{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} of financial abusers are family members or trusted others. And financial abuse is vastly under-reported: it is estimated that only one in 44 cases are reported to state protective services. Estimates of financial elder abuse and fraud costs range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually.

The attorneys at Samuels Yoelin Kantor watch for legal changes that may affect our current and future clients. A new Oregon law, effective January 1, 2020, should help vulnerable Oregonians that have been victims of abuse by making it harder to dismiss civil actions for abuse under ORS Chapter 124. This chapter of the Oregon Revised Statutes is also known as the Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act (“Act”).

Oregon lawmakers recently addressed an issue that enabled abusers to avoid elder abuse claims based on a technical procedural requirement.  

In June 2019, the legislature passed and Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 783. The new law amends the reporting provision at ORS 124.100(6). Currently, a party filing a civil claim for abuse (financial or physical) under the Act must notify the Attorney General of Oregon within 30 days after commencing the action. Failure to notify the AG has big consequences. A 2016 Oregon Court of Appeals case mandates that an action be dismissed if the commencing party fails to notify the AG within the required time. See Bishop v. Waters, 280 Or. App. 537, 546–48 (2016).

Amended ORS 124.100(6) applies to cases commenced on or after January 1, 2020, and provides that claims will no longer be subject to dismissal due to this strictly construed AG notification requirement. Senate Bill 783 eliminates the 30-day time period, and expressly allows a commencing party to cure a failure to notify the AG by “mailing” a copy of the complaint, or other initial pleading, any time prior to entry of judgment. Further, a court may not enter judgment for the plaintiff until proof of mailing is filed with the court.

The Oregon legislature has made it harder for a defendant to dismiss otherwise valid abuse claims, due to a procedural technicality. The change helps protect the victims of elder abuse while maintaining the notification requirement. This change then helps the AG track and prosecute elder abuse in Oregon.

Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP is one of the few law firms in Oregon with equally strong estate planning attorneys and fiduciary litigation attorneys. Our attorneys have the experience to recognize the signs of potential elder financial abuse. We know how to bring claims for victims of abuse. Many of our attorneys are licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and litigate claims in both states.

Who can bring a claim under Oregon’s financial elder abuse statute?

The victim, a guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact for the victim, a personal representative for a decedent who was a vulnerable person at the time of the abuse, or a trustee for a trust on behalf of the trustor or spouse of the trustor who is a vulnerable person. ORS 124.100(3). In addition to persons with certain mental or physical conditions, any person age 65 or older (regardless of health), qualifies as a “vulnerable person.” ORS 124.100(1).

What are some common forms of financial abuse?

Misuse of a Power of Attorney or joint bank account, overcharging for services, or improperly transfer title to property. Outright threats to abandon unless the victim complies with the abuser’s demands can by itself be financial elder abuse.

What are some warning signs of abuse?

  • An unexplained withdrawal, transfer, credit card charge, or payments that are unusual, or don’t otherwise fit with the explanation.
  • The elder is not given an opportunity to speak for themselves without the presence of a particular care giver, family member, or anyone else suspected of abuse.
  • The elder is extremely withdrawn, defensive, not communicative, or unresponsive. Victims frequently feel shame and embarrassment.
  • Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.

Report abuse

If you suspect someone is being abused, neglected, or financially exploited in Oregon or Washington, please reach out to the Oregon Department of Human Services or Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Also, you may consider hiring a private attorney to employ legal tools to prevent harm, or recover financial losses. Contact Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP to speak with an experienced fiduciary litigator who understands financial elder abuse claims in Oregon and Washington.

Darlene Pasieczny, Attorney

Darlene Pasieczny is a fiduciary and securities litigator at SYK. She represents clients both in Oregon and Washington, with matters regarding trust and estate disputes, financial elder abuse cases, securities litigation, and represents investors nationwide in FINRA arbitration. Her article, New Tools Help Financial Professionals Prevent Elder Abuse, was featured in the January 2019, Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter.

Free 24/7 Senior Loneliness Line: A Caring Call

Senior Loneliness Line

Clackamas County has launched a free and confidential 24/7 call-in at 503.200.1633 (or 800.282.7035) for adults older than 55 who live in Clackamas County.

Staff members are primarily trained under Lines for Life, to be well-equipped for crisis management training and suicide prevention. Staff members are also mandatory reporters and have been trained on how to fill out reports to Adult Protective Services.

The service is not for crisis only, and can be used for casual social calls – even daily.

Additionally, fiduciaries, caretakers and others can call the Senior Loneliness Line and request help.

“By investing in our older adults, we ensure that they will thrive in our community.”

Victoria Blachly: SYK Attorney

Victoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases or causes. She is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.

Attorneys Blachly & Pasieczny Present on Combating Financial Elder Abuse

Recent Tools to Combat Financial Elder Abuse”: a closer look at mandatory and permissive conduct for Oregon securities professionals.

Today, over 46 million Americans are 65 years of age or older. This accounts for nearly 15{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} of the population. According to the Population Reference Bureau, that number is projected to more than double by the year 2060. It will reach an estimated 98 million and 24{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} of the U.S. population. Approximately 1 out of every 10 Americans, age 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Estimates of financial elder abuse and fraud costs range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually

On Thursday, February 21st, SYK attorneys Victoria Blachly and Darlene Pasieczny will speak to the Oregon State Bar Securities Regulation Section about financial elder abuse in the securities industry. Their program “Recent Tools to Combat Financial Elder Abuse: Mandatory and Permissive Conduct Under FINRA Rules and Oregon Law for Securities Professionals,” will take a closer look at Oregon statues and FINRA rules regarding mandatory and permissive conduct for brokers and investment advisers when there is reasonable suspicion of financial abuse.

Meet the experts – Victoria Blachly and Darlene Pasieczny

Victoria Blachly is a fiduciary litigator, licensed in Oregon and Washington. She represents individual trustees, corporate trustees, beneficiaries, and personal representatives in often difficult and challenging cases including:

  • Trust and estate litigation
  • Will contests
  • Trust disputes
  • Undue influence
  • Capacity cases
  • Claims of fiduciary breach
  • Financial elder abuse cases
  • Petitioning for court instructions
  • Contested guardianship and conservatorship cases.

Darlene Pasieczny is a fiduciary and securities litigator. She represents clients both in Oregon and Washington, with matters regarding trust and estate disputes, financial elder abuse cases, securities litigation, and represents investors nationwide in FINRA arbitration. Her article, New Tools Help Financial Professionals Prevent Elder Abuse, was featured in the January 2019, Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter.

Report abuse

If you suspect someone is being abused, neglected, or financially exploited, please reach out to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Also, you may consider hiring a private attorney to help employ legal tools to prevent harm, or recover financial losses.

Articles by SYK Attorneys Nelson and Pasieczny featured in the OSB Elder Law Newsletter

Protective Proceedings and New Tools Help Financial Professionals: two SYK attorneys contribute to the OSB Elder Law Newsletter.

The January 2019, Volume 22 issue of the OSB Elder Law Newsletter featured articles by two of SYK’s outstanding attorneys. Laura Nelson, whose practice includes estate planning, trust administration, and guardianship and conservatorship cases was featured on the first page of the newsletter. Her article, co-authored by Rachel Brooks, Protective Proceedings: A Sister (State) Act, examines the differences between the way in which Oregon and Washington handle cases involving protected persons.

SYK attorney Darlene Pasieczny’s article, New Tools Help Financial Professionals Prevent Elder Abuse, examines mandatory and permissive conduct for Oregon securities professionals when there is reasonable suspicion of financial abuse. Pasieczny is a fiduciary and securities litigator. She represents clients in both Oregon and Washington in trust and estate disputes, elder financial abuse, securities litigation, and investors nationwide in FINRA arbitration.

To read both of these articles, please see the January publication of the Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter.

Productive & Positive Planning for Aging: Check Your To Do List

Productive & Positive Planning For Aging

A recent article broke down the often daunting and ignored tasks that make for good planning decisions when you or a loved one ages – – well in advance of when one’s ability to make such decisions may be taken away by changing physical or mental health – or the involvement of a court, in some cases. The article breaks it down into three categories:

  1. Decision to Stop Driving

One hopes that with the proliferation of readily accessible pay-services for transportation, the decision to step away from the responsibility of driving may be easier to make than ever. Naturally, rural locations do not have the luxury of a taxi, Lyft, or Uber, so asking for a ride from friends or family must be considered. Evaluating this decision early is a better option than waiting until someone is harmed.

  1. Decision to Stay in Your Home

Along with the evaluation of financial restrictions and social aspects of one’s living arrangements, to make an educated decision as to whether aging in place where you currently live is viable, the National Association of Home Builders has a comprehensive checklist that walks you through many considerations for an appropriate living space. Again, looking through the list well in advance and considering options is much preferred over making hasty decisions under stressful circumstances.

  1. Decision to Take Care of Yourself

The expense of in-home care versus a facility or retirement community is a substantial consideration. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has done a lot of research that will help you evaluate viable options, with a comprehensive website where you can enter your city and state, or zip code, for valuable information and assistance.

As with many important decisions in our lives, knowledge is power, so arm yourselves accordingly. Naturally, the legal documents to effectuate your ultimate decisions are also a necessary part of the planning process, so make sure your estate planning attorney knows your plan, to make sure everything is in place to meet your legal needs.

Victoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases or causes, she is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.

June 15 – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

One in ten Americans aged 60 or above have experienced some form of elder abuse.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day designated to bring visibility to the prevalence of global elder abuse. According to the National Council on Aging, one in ten Americans aged 60 or above have experienced some form of elder abuse. It is expected that with the number of older persons growing, abuse of the elderly will also grow. Though elder abuse is a serious and common problem that could lead to poverty, hunger, homelessness, compromised health and well-being, and even premature mortality, it often is one of the least investigated or reported types of abuse.

Recent research findings have highlighted financial exploitation as a frequent form of elder abuse. It has been estimated on a global scale that 5 to 10 per cent of older people may experience some kind of financial exploitation. Financial exploitation often goes unreported either due to the victim’s embarrassment or because of an impairment resulting in an inability to report the abuse.

An older person may be vulnerable to financial exploitation due to social isolation and cognitive impairments. Other factors that place the elderly at risk include: emotional or physical dependence on the perpetrator, financial dependence of the abuser on the older person, certain living arrangements, poverty, widowhood and lack of support networks. Societal prejudices such as ageism and discriminatory systems may also contribute toward the elderly being at risk of financial exploitation.

One way to prevent elder abuse is to plan for the future. A power of attorney or a living will can address health care and financial decisions and better avoid confusion and problems later on. Having a will and reviewing the will periodically may also help prevent abuse. An estate planning attorney can provide assistance in planning for the future.

Family members and others concerned about preventing or stopping ongoing elder abuse also have options. Education on abuse and being able to identify the common forms it takes can be critical to prevention. For education resources go to https://ncea.acl.gov/

Reporting abuse or suspected abuse is also vital. For immediate, life-threatening danger, the police should be contacted. If an older person is being mistreated the local Adult Protective Services office should be contacted. If the older person is in a facility, such as a nursing home, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman should be contacted. In Oregon the Elder Abuse Hotline number is 1-855-503-7233.

While physical abuse and some financial abuse issues can be appropriately responded to by the police, other financial abuse issues may require an experienced elder abuse attorney.

An experienced elder abuse attorney may be able to determine whether financial elder abuse has occurred through undue influence, lack of capacity, or a breach of fiduciary duty. If financial abuse has occurred an experienced elder abuse attorney may be able to litigate abuse claims on behalf of the victim or the victim’s family.

Special thanks to Daniela Holgate for her work on this article. Daniela is a law clerk at SYK, and a J.D. candidate at Lewis & Clark School of law.

Victoria Blachly - Parter

Not only is Victoria Blachly a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases or causes, she is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.

Blachly Testifies in Favor of New Legislation

The Statesman Journal quoted SYK partner, and appointed member of both the Oregon Uniform State Law Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services, Victoria Blachly on her thoughts regarding Oregon Senate Bill 95.

The new legislation would allow investment advisers to freeze assets and report to authorities if they suspect someone is misappropriating, misusing or transferring without authorization the money of a vulnerable elderly person.

“Elder abuse thrives in secrecy, silence and shame,” said Blachly, who testified in favor of the bill. “The more of us that keep an eye out for abuse, the better.”

The bill passed the senate and has been referred to the house.

The Oregon Elder Abuse Hotline number is 1-855-503-7233.

Victoria Blachly is a fiduciary litigator. She is a trial attorney who represents individual trustees, corporate trustees, beneficiaries, and personal representatives in often difficult and challenging cases including trust and estate litigation, will contests, trust disputes, undue influence, capacity cases, claims of fiduciary breach, financial elder abuse cases, and contested guardianship and conservatorship cases.

Eldercare 101 – A New Book from a Local Author

Local Author With New Eldercare Book – Eldercare 101: A Practical Guide to Later Life Planning, Care, and Wellbeing

Eldercare 101: A Practical Guide to Later Life Planning, Care, and Wellbeing is a new book to help elders and their families, as prepared by a practicing gerontologist and aging life care manager who collaborated with an experienced team of experts to write about “6 Pillars of Aging Wellbeing:” legal, financial, living environment, social, medical, and spiritual.

The book will be available in mid-August, but you can pre-order a copy now.

Eldercare 101 will help elders or their adult children choose how they will live with the challenges of aging, with proactive planning and answers for urgent situations. Portland’s own Theresa Giddings from Soft Landings, Solutions for Seniors wrote the Financial Pillar. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner, by training and practice for over 25 years. Her current company, Soft Landings, offers specialized move services for seniors and their families.

I have pre-ordered my book.  No doubt Theresa Gidding’s compassion and care will shine through, as she shares her wisdom and experience in helpful ways.