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William Rambaum, PA Clearwater & Oldsmar Elder Law Attorney

When Trusted Family Members Ruin Seniors’ Finances


When most of us hear about financial abuse of seniors, we usually think of a charming new friend of paramour who moved in on a lonely, vulnerable elderly person and swindled the victim out of his or her life’s savings or sweet-talked the victim into changing his or her will, thereby cheating the decedent’s relatives out of their inheritance.  The media often portray lawsuits to remedy such financial abuse of elderly people as a case of well-meaning relatives against undue influencers.  The truth is sometimes more complicated than that.  Sometimes elderly people suffer financial abuse at the hands of members of their own family.  If you regret the decision to give a family member so much control over your finances, or if you think that your sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin is sending one of your elderly relatives on the path to financial ruin, contact a Central Florida elder law attorney.

When Your Nephew Has the Power to Ruin You Financially

In 2015, a court in Tennessee dissolved the marriage of George Giannakoulias and Angie Larsen.  Their marriage had fallen apart because of George’s habit of borrowing huge amounts of money, investing them in businesses doomed to fail, and then moving to another state.  Several years later, in a post-divorce parenting dispute, she would testify that George acts as if rules do not apply to him, citing several incidents in which he took risks with their children’s safety.  Angie filed for divorce after George ran up $400,000 in debt running a bed and breakfast, but she was not the person who suffered the most from his lack of financial responsibility, but this pattern of behavior had existed even before their marriage, and Angie was not the person who suffered the most because of it.

Before they married in 2008, Angie and George signed a prenuptial agreement to protect each of them from the other’s premarital debt.  Angie owed money on a home mortgage in Tennessee, and George had a $300,000 home equity line of credit on a house in Florida.  Early in his relationship with Angie, he maxed it out by day trading on the stock market.  The worst news, though, is that the line of credit was secured by a house that George owned jointly with his 95-year-old aunt.

Whatever you do, don’t end up in a similar position to George’s aunt, who may have lost her house at the age of 95 because of her day trading activities.  (The court decision in George and Angie’s case does not say how the story ends for his aunt.  It does not even say if she knew about the line of credit.)  Some elderly people decide that jointly titling their assets in their own names and the names of younger family members is an important part of their estate plan.  If you decide to do this, an elder law and estate planning lawyer can help protect you from your family members’ dishonesty or financial mistakes.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Even if you trust your family members, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer when merging your finances with those of the younger generation.  Contact Clearwater probate attorney William Rambaum for help today.


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