At first glance it may be hard to imagine what lessons the case of late philanthropist Brooke Astor holds for everyday Americans. It’s not as if many of us have a $200 million fortune stashed under our mattresses, at risk of being stolen.
Equally improbable is the other person at the center of the case: Brooke Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall (left), a former U.S. ambassador and Broadway producer, who was accused — and just days ago, convicted — of looting his late mother’s fortune.
But if there was any doubt about the case’s relevance, the Probate Lawyer Blog dispels it. Money quote:
[The Brooke Astor case] marks an important victory in the battle against elder abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that between one and five million elderly Americans have been the victim of financial exploitation each and every year. Exact figures are hard to track because so many instances of abuse go unreported.
That’s why high profile cases like this one are important. People who prey on the elderly and seek what seems like an unguarded pot of gold need to understand that they can be punished. If Marshall had avoided jail time, then it wouldn’t have sent a strong message to the other would-be abusers out there.
What can elder Americans do to protect themselves against financial exploitation?