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Nov 25, 2015 by |

San Francisco Elder Abuse Attorneys, Doolittle v. Exchange Bank

San Francisco Elder Abuse Lawyers Discuss the Facts

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

The Background

Marin County, the gem of the North Bay and one-time wealthiest county in America. Now seen as a nice place to retire or raise the kids, it is also the location of some high-stakes financial elder abuse cases. In this blog, our attorney’s will examine the facts in one case of Marin county elder abuse, Doolittle vs. Exchange Bank. The case emerges from the estate of an elderly Marin woman who decided to leave a quarter of her estate to a gardener, whereupon her daughter sued to have the will challenged. Allegations aside, the case illustrates how complicated it can be to work in the field of elder law, and how important it is to make sure no wrongdoing is involved in the creation of a will or other financial instrument.

How did it Get started?

When Constance Doolittle hired her gardener, Juan Ramon Amador in 2004, it’s unlikely she had any intention of leaving him $3 million, a sizeable share of her estate. When she passed away in 2014, she had not only become convinced that he was her romantic partner, but also that she ought to invest thousands of dollars in coffee plantations belonging to his family and write rigorous defenses for his inheritance into her will. She made sure to be examined and declared mentally competent, as well as to provide for legal costs in defense of her will. Thus, the long-ranging battle over the money has been slow, and the outcome remains unclear. From the perspective of Doolittle’s daughter, who brought the suit, it is a clear case of an elderly divorcee, feeling alone and neglected, being manipulated by someone close to them. Perhaps from her estranged mother’s perspective, it is a way to reward someone who spent time with her when no one else would. Intent can be nigh-impossible to prove in elder abuse cases, and it is on this that everything hinges.

What does this tell us about Elder Abuse Law?

Despite the significant protections for elders built into California law, this added dimension can sometimes be tricky to negotiate for attorneys. Certain actions, like Amador’s alleged manipulation, only become illegal if incompetence can be proved, as the sheer number of sweetheart scams (typically with the genders reversed) goes to show. The situation of a younger person dating or marrying a wealthy senior citizen for their money is quite common, and perhaps morally reprehensible, but not illegal. Taking that into consideration, it is important for family and friends to help protect senior citizens from potential abuse. Dropping by to talk, finding out about the details of their life any those in it, can make all the difference in preventing similar situations from happening in your own family. Our Marin County elder abuse attorneys also feel that it is important to talk with the elders in your life about their wishes for their possessions and their wills. It can be hard to talk about these things, but the alternative is the kind of public conflict that’s happened to the Doolittles.

Who can you talk to?

Evans Law firm is a plaintiff’s firm that specializes in combating elder financial and physical abuse, working on annuity, life insurance, and reverse mortgage fraud, and dealing with nursing home and assisted living facility abuse. If you think that you or a loved one is a victim or potential victim of elder abuse, contact the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at info@evanslaw.com

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