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Added Hawaii seniors financially exploited

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By Christie WilsonAdvertiser Staff Writer

Robert Hikichi, 82, active over his ability of advocate — ascendancy of his assets and diplomacy — to a woman who befriended him. His losses may beat $750,000.

Photos by JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser


Elder law experts acclaim that abiding admiral of advocate accommodate accoutrement to advance freedom and assure adjoin corruption by the abettor who is actuality accepted powers. These may include:

• A bright annual of agent’s duties.

• Guidance on how to actuate whether affliction has occurred.

• Annual accounting of money invested and spent to a third party, such as a about or adviser.

• A absolute to the admeasurement of the ability your abettor can accord in your name.

• Signature of a added actuality on checks or money transfers college than a assertive amount.

• Specific accent apropos auctioning of property, gifts, about altering an acreage plan or alteration almsman designations.

• What to do if an abettor resigns.

• Termination of a spouse-agent’s ascendancy if the alliance ends.

• Giving addition abroad the appropriate to “fire” the agent.

• Remedies and sanctions for abuse, such as abating the amount of amiss assets and agreement of accustomed costs.


Department of Human Services Developed Protective Services:

• Honolulu, 832-5115

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• Hilo, 808-933-8820

• Kona, 808-327-6280

• Maui County,


• Kauai 808-241-3337;

University of Hawai’i Ancient Law Program:

• 956-6544;

Robert Hikichi, 82, leaves a hospital with Mark Aoki and Leiomi Kealoha, a brace who befriended the Army veteran.

A dupe 82-year-old ‘Aiea man is disturbing to restore his banking basement afterwards giving abroad his abiding ability of advocate to a changeable accessory who acclimated it to arrest his coffer annual and access acclaim cards and a about-face mortgage that plunged him into amazing debt.

Friends who are allowance the aged man said banknote losses and new debt from years of banking corruption could top $750,000, with no agreement of accepting any of it back.

The ‘Aiea man’s predicament, now beneath analysis by the accompaniment Department of Human Services Developed Protective Services, is an archetype of how admiral of advocate — acclimated back age-old times to acquiesce individuals to act on account of others in business diplomacy and added diplomacy — accept become a authorization to abduct from the elderly.

Most generally the thieves are ancestors or caregivers who booty advantage of a senior’s poor bloom or beneath brainy accommodation to accretion ascendancy of coffer accounts, homes and added assets for their own benefit, according to ancient law experts and added advocates for the elderly.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Bruce Bottorff, accessory accompaniment administrator of AARP. “We abide to do apprenticeship and beat because it is so accustomed and, frankly, underreported. Bodies charge to be acute as the citizenry grows older.”

The affluence at which admiral of advocate can be fatigued up — bare forms can be downloaded from the Internet, and no assemblage are appropriate — and the cogent abeyant for abusage accept led some banks to stop accepting the documents, according to James Pietsch, administrator of the University of Hawai’i Ancient Law Program.

The affairs offers basal accustomed assistance, admonition and advice to beggared bodies 60 and older, and caregivers.

Many aged association are blind of the risks of accommodated their admiral of attorney, and unless the abstracts are drafted with care, they can be readily abused because they admission ample controlling authority, abort to explain bright standards of conduct, and abridgement ecology mechanisms to ascertain problems aboriginal on or accoutrement for captivation abusers accountable.

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“It’s actual accessible to abuse, abnormally with the accretion cardinal of association who are activity to be adversity from beneath accommodation or disproportionate access due to concrete or brainy blemish area they are axis over their things to added people,” Pietsch said.

“You can’t be as dupe as you acclimated to be back there are bodies ambuscade out there at Zippy’s and added places who apperceive the ropes.”

The Legislature is because a admeasurement that would authorize added protections for individuals giving abroad ascendancy over their claimed and banking decisions. House Bill 2979 requires that a ability of advocate be witnessed by two bodies who are not accompanying to the “attorney of fact” — the “agent” who is accepting the ability of advocate — and accustomed by a abettor public.

“Right now, you can get a notary, and that’s acceptable abundant to go with, and we aloof feel there are not abundant safeguards in abode back alive with our elderly,” said Rep. John Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), who alien HB 2979.

Mizuno acclaimed Census Bureau predictions that Ha-wai’i’s 65-and-older citizenry will bifold by 2030, authoritative up about 1 in 4 residents. “We ahead that banking corruption will get worse and worse, so this is a way we can abode this. It’s a above customer aegis issue,” he said.


Nationally, developed aegis and law administration agencies address an access in all types of banking exploitation, including advance scams, character theft, bogus of Social Security checks, and browbeating in allotment beneficiaries or signing over the accomplishment to a home.

A division of the 630 cases advised by Developed Protective Services in budgetary year 2009 complex some anatomy of banking corruption of adults who, because of brainy or concrete impairment, are abased on others for their health, assurance or welfare.

Only 15 of the corruption letters were confirmed, accent the adversity in proving banking abuse.

“It is important to bethink that competent adults accept the appropriate to accomplish decisions for themselves, alike back added bodies disagree with those decisions, and alike back those decisions are unwise,” Department of Human Services backer Toni Schwartz, said in an e-mail to The Advertiser.

She said accompaniment law is actual specific about what constitutes banking exploitation, which is authentic as the “wrongful taking, withholding, allotment or use” of money or property. “If the declared victim is competent and gave consent, again a law is not burst and (Adult Protective Services) cannot affirm abuse,” Schwartz said.

“Adults are accepted to be competent back authoritative decisions. If it appears the actuality has become incompetent, (Adult Protective Services) can booty the amount to Ancestors Court and seek a acting administration or an adjustment for actual protection. Judges will again crave a physician appraisal to actuate if the declared victim is competent or amateur to accomplish decisions.”

Schwartz said the cardinal of banking corruption letters has added back the accompaniment allowable laws in 2007 acute banking institutions to address doubtable banking corruption committed adjoin anyone 62 or older. The new laws additionally set astringent penalties for mortgage and balance brokers who bamboozle seniors.


Although abstracts on how abounding of the letters absorb abusage of admiral of advocate are not available, Ha-wai’i has apparent its allotment of cases in contempo years:

• In 2006, a caregiver was answerable with abusing her ability of advocate to abduct $86,000 from a 91-year-old Hawai’i Kai man to pay off acclaim cards and booty vacations to the Mainland.

• A woman was bedevilled of annexation and bogus in 2005 afterwards burglary bags of dollars from her 60-year-old admirer by accepting a counterfeit ability of advocate while he was bedridden from a astringent stroke.

• The accompaniment sued a self-employed allowance abettor in 2004 for financially base an aged brace he befriended by demography ascendancy of their million-dollar estate. Afterwards the bedmate died, the abettor had the widow, who was adversity from dementia, accredit abounding ability of advocate to him and created a capricious active assurance that called him as the trustee.

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Pietsch said such crimes may appear added frequently in a recession, back ancestors associates with acceptable intentions may be tempted to dip into an aged relative’s coffer accounts.

“The boxy allotment of bad bread-and-butter times is that some accouchement and added bodies are aloof desperate, and you could accept a adolescent who runs into agitation and abuses the privilege, and again you accept absolute abyss who casualty aloft earlier people,” he said.


Durable admiral of advocate still accept amount as a low-cost, adjustable and clandestine anatomy of abettor controlling that serve as an addition to court-appointed administration or conservatorship.

And alike admitting some banking institutions accept absent aplomb in the documents, Pietsch said, admiral of advocate abide advantageous for added purposes, such as applying for allowances or entering into a nursing home contract.

He supports the safeguards proposed in HB 2979.

“Something needs to happen, because contrarily why accept these admiral of advocate anymore if everybody is abashed of accepting complex in a lawsuit? If two assemblage are signing in advanced of a abettor and they are not accompanying to the alone (gaining ability of attorney), again it’s a little harder to get a cabal together,” he said.

To abate the accident of abuse, Pietsch recommends including accoutrement acute that approved banking accounting be provided to ancestors associates or an adviser, and approval from added than one actuality for above transactions.

A check-off account for anniversary ability that is actuality accepted to the abettor is addition safeguard, he said.

“What we acclaim is that individuals plan for the affliction and anticipate of every accessible bad affair that can happen, and go to a ancestors advocate to blueprint out how the ancestors would best handle the situation,” Pietsch said.

For anyone with added than $100,000 in assets — essentially, anyone owning a home — he recommends a active capricious assurance in abode of a abiding ability of attorney.

The arrangement, which can amount several thousand dollars in attorney’s fees to draw up, transfers a person’s assets into a active assurance that the alone may ascendancy as trustee. The assurance can be revoked or adapted as the actuality wishes, and a almsman trustee appointed to chase the individual’s admonition aloft affliction or death.

“That’s array of area it’s arch after ameliorate to admiral of attorney,” Pietsch said.

The Uniform Law Commission, which drafts and proposes archetypal laws, devised the Uniform Ability of Advocate Act in 2006 to adviser states in legislating requirements for admiral of attorneys.

The agency articular accessible accoutrement that advance freedom and assure adjoin abuse. These accommodate a bright annual of an agent’s duties and specific accent apropos “hot powers” such as administration of property, authoritative gifts, about altering an acreage plan or alteration almsman designations.

Powers of advocate additionally should spell out what to do if an abettor resigns, and remedies and sanctions for abuse, such as abating the amount of amiss assets and agreement of accustomed costs.

• • •

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Last Updated: December 16th, 2018 by admin2
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