In April, a 43-year-old Matawan resident appeared in court to plead guilty to numerous charges, including several counts of attempted impersonation and theft by deception. The charges arose out of the man’s impersonation of an 87-year-old woman’s nephew. He then used his relationship with the woman to steal close to $1 million and her family home. The victim suffered from dementia and terminal cancer at the time of the acts.
The arrest followed a five-month investigation by Adult Protective Services and the Prosecutor’s Office. The County was looking into reports of suspicious estate planning, real estate and financial transactions in which the man had participated. The man admitted to preparing a will for the woman, naming himself as the sole beneficiary of her estate. He also prepared a deed transferring the woman’s home to himself in exchange for $1. The home was built in 1925. The value of the property was not disclosed.
As a result of the conviction, the man’s bank accounts were frozen, and his luxury sports car seized. All monies seized by the state will be returned to the victim’s estate. The defendant entered a plea agreement where he will serve eight years of imprisonment. He will not be eligible for parole during the first three and a half years.
An estate plan can help senior citizens avoid becoming victims of these scams. An estate attorney may be able to transfer property into a trust to preserve clients’ rights to use the property during their lifetimes, while preserving assets for heirs. It may be possible to include safeguards to prevent the property from being transferred.
Source: Rumson-FairHavenPatch, “Man Admits Bilking Senior of Nearly $1 Million,” Elaine Van Develde, April 13, 2013