In Stan Lee’s iconic story of “Spider-Man,” young Peter Parker fails to stop a robbery, which leads to the death of his uncle. Thereafter, Peter is the crime-stopping Spider-Man. Peter’s double life then centers on protecting others from abuse.
Sadly, there has been recent news that Stan Lee was the victim of financial exploitation at the hands of his business manager. Allegations include that Mr. Lee signed documents which he couldn’t understand and that the business manager kept a great deal of money which should have gone to Mr. Lee.
The good news is that elder abuse and financial exploitation can be stopped. It’s not always easy, but it often is done! In Mr. Lee’s case, justice is happening after his death. His estate has filed a lawsuit and the police have filed charges.
I think, in a sense, as we recognize Elder Abuse Awareness Month, Mr. Lee would be proud to be fighting the villain even from beyond the grave. Think about it – what an awesome storyline for a hero!
Here are nine potential action steps you can take to stop elder abuse:
- Contact an experienced elder law attorney or local free legal services program for help. Ohio has a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping seniors, ProSeniors, which can be reached at (513) 345-4160.
- Report the situation to Adult Protective Services. There is an office located in every Ohio county. You can find contact information at eldercare.acl.gov or 800-677-1116. In some cases, making the report is mandatory.
- For identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-IDTHEFT. An online complaint form is available at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
- For Medicare issues or fraud, there is a volunteer service called the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) to assist beneficiaries and to even accept complaints. They can be reached at 877-808-2468. For help in Ohio, the contact is ProSeniors.
- For Social Security concerns, contact 800-772-1213 or you can create a “my Social Security account” for online access via socialsecurity.gov.
- Contact all financial institutions the senior is involved with to let them know.
- Place a credit freeze or alert for the senior with the credit reporting agencies.
- Prepare financial powers of attorneys and healthcare directives if the senior has the necessary mental capacity to do so.
- In some cases, it may be necessary to file for guardianship if the senior is no longer able to make decisions competently. In Ohio, once a case is filed, there is a statutory freeze prohibiting the transfer of the senior’s assets.