Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Retirees Beware

We’ve posted a sickening story out of Oregon about a woman named Connie Gay Cole who, per the story, stole assets valued at approximately $500,000 from her grandparents leaving them in their 90s and penniless. Cole is now in jail while her grandparents live in an assisted living facility at taxpayer expense.

What’s frightening is how many Connie Gay Coles are outside prison and perpetrating similar acts with which they will get away. Welcome to life in the Land of the Gimme-Gimmes and the Home of the I-Want-Mores!

And speaking of heinous situations, EstateofDenial.com applauds our friend Eric Baxter in taking a new approach with regard to the questionable circumstances of his father’s death. At his web site, Eric has posted three polls that describe scenarios related to August C. Baxter’s 2005 death with readers now having an opportunity to weigh in.

One of the polls, Is This Homicide?, is prefaced with a reminder that Natchitoches, LA, the town in which August Baxter died, is often listed as a top U.S. retirement spot. We routinely make the point that retirees and their heirs need to exercise caution when considering residency in a retirement community or other locale that caters to seniors.

Why? Take a look at Boomers to Become “Rich” Targets for Estate Looters, Where the Looters and the Poachers Stalk Prey: Guarding Your Estate in the 21st Century and Your Town,USA – a Great Place to Live, Launch and Loot? for more on predators and seniors.

Here in Texas, we have Georgetown, home to the state’s first Sun City community. With Texas having become the #2 retirement destination behind only Florida and having surpassed California and Arizona, this is an area that should be sensitive to the attraction it poses for estate looters and other predators of the elderly. Natchitoches, like Georgetown, is another well-known retirement mecca. In fact, both have recently been profiled by Where to Retire magazine and as Eric points out,
American communities do not naturally value the lives of the elderly, the disabled or strangers as they do those of their own children and do not equally protect them or lament their loss. For example, Louisiana’s community of Natchitoches promotes itself as “a top retirement town” - “one of the top 10 bargain places to retire in the United States ” - soliciting elder residents forthe revenue they bring.

In exchange for their commerce and taxes, the town owes elders something toward the prevention of neglect and predatory exploitation - particularly while elder abuse looms nationally as the “crime of the 21st century”. Yet, without a body of case law establishing a legal standard of the “equal protection” they are due, disabled elders continue to suffer while crimes against them go largely hidden, unpunished and undeterred.

It’s easy for many people to point fingers and accuse family members of being disgruntled due to inheritance losses or other family ill will (real or contrived), but often times these situations result from calculated efforts involving unethical - even criminal conduct. Communities that aggressively market to retirees and then abdicate responsibility upon the exposure of alleged exploitation or other predatory acts should be considered as aiding and abetting the actual asset looters or property poachers.

Eric Baxter is not looking for a “rush to judgment” with regard to his father’s case. He’s looking for a responsible community reaction in which law enforcement and other elected officials take seriously the questionable circumstances leading up to and including his father’s death. It is a matter of import to the Baxter family, but as bad acts have a way of replicating themselves, this publically recognized yet unchecked potential foul play could also serve as a magnet to the unscrupulous and as a threat to the physical and/or financial well being of other residents.

Law enforcement needs to investigate. If warranted, the local district attorney needs to react accordingly and should the matter ever proceed to trial, any judge should engage him/herself so as to read the motions, study the evidence presented and give consideration to the conduct/presentation of all involved prior to rendering decisions.

These matters can be sensitive as community “pillars” can also be chief poachers. We well understand how power and influence are factors that can drive action or inaction in these cases. The entrenchment of the legal industry within civic and other governmental circles is also a deterrent to justice for more “average” citizens (although their “average” tax dollars are always eagerly lapped up).

People must become vigilant as to what is happening in their own communities. Someone’s life could depend on it.

Meanwhile, this is EstateofDenial.com signing out from the Land of the Gimme-Gimmes and the Home of the I-Want-Mores

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