Anyone who has cared for an elderly and ailing parent knows just how difficult the situation can be. Often, adult children want to act as full-time caregivers for their parents but are unable to do so due to work or other family commitments. In those situations, the available solutions are not ideal. The parent can either be placed in a care facility or the family can hire an in-home caregiver to attend to everyday needs.
Neither solution is cheap. Elder care can cost thousands of dollars monthly and all too often insurance companies and Medicare are not enough to cover the bills. Consequently, many families find themselves in the unenviable position of having to hire caregivers who are less than ideal. Things like criminal backgrounds get overlooked as families simply try to find affordable help.
Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous characters who take advantage of these families. While their scams are numerous, the one this article focuses on can have devastating effects on families. Specifically, we’re talking about caregivers who ingratiate themselves to an elderly patient, earn that patient’s trust, and then talk the patient into naming them as a life insurance beneficiary.
In most cases, the family doesn’t find out about these policy changes until it is too late. This article explores how one California family was forced to deal with this unfortunate dilemma.
A trusting caregiver for grandma
The Smith family was a close and loving family. The matriarch, Irma, had brought her children to California in the 1950s. She worked two jobs while she raised her three children all alone. She must have done something right because her kids – Luke, Jack, and Cindy – all grew up to have successful professional careers and family lives.
As Irma entered her 80s, her family noticed that her physical and mental health seemed to be declining. An independent woman, Irma had lived on her own for over 40 years. Suddenly, however, she was forgetting to do things like turn off the stove. Twice she had fallen and fractured her wrist.
Irma’s children made the difficult decision to put Irma in an adult daycare facility. That way, she would get the care she needed during the day, and the kids could rotate having her stay with them in the evenings. It seemed like the best solution for everyone.
Shortly after she began spending her days at the facility, Irma seemed to grow particularly fond of one of the nursing assistants named Jackie. Jackie paid extra attention to Irma and often made time to play chess with her or bring her an ice cream cone after her morning shift had ended. Luke, Jack, and Cindy each met Jackie and initially felt lucky that the woman had taken such a liking to their mother.
As time passed, however, they noticed that Jackie continued to work her way into Irma’s life. She began offering to drive Irma home to the kids’ houses each evening. She also volunteered to care for Irma in their homes on the weekends. For a long time, it simply seemed like an innocent friendship had blossomed between an unlikely pair. Some days, it almost felt like Jackie was a part of the family. At the same time, each of Irma’s children would later recount that something seemed “off” about Jackie’s relationship with Irma.
A bad time to discover the truth
About a year after she first entered adult daycare, Irma died. Her daughter Cindy, who had long taken care of her mother’s financial matters – took on the administrative tasks that must get done when a person passes. Among those tasks was the process of making a claim against her mother’s life insurance policy on behalf of herself and her two brothers.
For years, Irma had bragged about the fact that she had maintained the same life insurance policy since the early 1970s. She also proudly reminded her children from time to time that they were each going to receive a $100,000 payout when her time came. In fact, Irma told her kids that so often that Cindy actually smiled as she filled out the claim forms.
A few weeks later, however, Irma’s children got the shock of their lives when they received a claim denial letter in the mail. According to the letter, Irma had changed her the beneficiary designation in her policy just weeks before she died. Specifically, she had named Jackie as her sole beneficiary. Their collective hearts sank as they realized Jackie had lavished their mother with all that attention for the sole purpose of getting a large payday.
Unsure of what to do, the three hired a lawyer specializing in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims. Among other things, he immediately ordered a background check on Jackie. It turns out she had gone to jail twice previously for check fraud. She had also been fired from three jobs working with the elderly for having stolen money and other personal effects.
Meanwhile, Cindy searched her mother’s papers and found cards Jackie had given Irma where she wrote extensively about how “abusive” Irma’s children were and how they didn’t deserve to benefit from her the life insurance policy she had paid on for all those years. Luckily, Cindy also had dozens of friends and family members who were willing to testify that Jackie’s statements in that regard were categorically false.
The lawyer presented all of this evidence to the life insurance company. It immediately filed a lawsuit asking the court to decide who should receive Irma’s life insurance proceeds. The lawsuit required Jackie and Irma’s children to appear and participate in the proceedings. Jackie, however, never showed up. Faced with that fact and all of the evidence of Irma’s true intentions, the court ruled that Irma’s pre-Jackie beneficiary designation should stand.If you are facing a life insurance claim denial at the hands of an unscrupulous caregiver, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We handle these cases all the time and can work with the insurance company and the courts to get you the payout you deserve. Call today. We’re here to help.