June 2013

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the UN’s World Health Organization launched World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, 2006. This year marks it’s eight annual observation. Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, comes in many forms. It is recognized by experts as a public health crisis for which there are no socio-economic borders. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, with an estimated 84% of cases going unreported. The 8th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th provides a great opportunity to shed light on the problem of elder abuse. Click here to see the Presidential proclamation.

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How Difficult Is It to Prove That an Older Person Is "Incompetent"?

Every adult is presumed to be "competent" -- which is a legal term that means the individual can make legally binding decisions regarding his or her own business and personal affairs.

For Nashville, Tennessee, resident Mittie T. Alexander -- "Miss Mittie" -- "legally competent" meant the mental capacity to make a deed of her real estate to her niece Starlene Anderson in April 2008, and retaining a life estate in the property.

A year later, in July 2009, Miss Mittie's daughter Teresa Alexander petitioned a Nashville court to be named conservator of her mother. That petition was granted, and eight days later, on September 19, Ms. Alexander filed a lawsuit against Ms. Anderson, seeking to set aside ("rescind") the deed on the grounds that it was procured by fraud or that Miss Mittie lacked the mental capacity at the time she made the deed -- in short, that Miss Mittie was "incompetent."

For her part, Ms. Anderson contended that Miss Mittie had met privately with her own attorney, who consulted with her and drafted the deed. In short, Miss Mittie was "competent."

As Miss Mittie's conservator, Ms. Alexander was tasked with proving that her mother was "incompetent" when she made the deed. How could she do that?

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