A documentary film about financial abuse of the elderly that stars Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney and features Florida ElderLawAnswers member attorney Ira Wiesner is opening April 13, 2012, in New York City.
The film, Last Will and Embezzlement, was inspired by the experiences of one of the film’s writers and producers, the author Pamela S. K. Glasner, whose own elderly parents became victims of financial exploitation.
They were not alone. Older Americans are losing $2.9 billion annually to elder financial abuse, according to a 2011 MetLife study, and the figure is climbing. Cases frequently involve a person known to the victim -- trusted helpers like caretakers, handymen, friends, "sweethearts," and children who seize on opportunities to forge checks, steal credit cards, pilfer bank accounts, transfer assets and generally decimate elders' financial safety nets.
These are cases “where you infuse yourself into their lives and become part of their situation,” attorney Wiesner says in the film. “You do that based on trust. That’s your avenue in if you’re one of these perpetrators.”
Rooney, now 91, alleges that his stepson took financial advantage of him, and in March 2011 he testified at a Senate hearing on ways to end elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. "If elder abuse happened to me, Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anyone," Rooney told lawmakers.
Glasner and her co-producer and director Deborah Louise Robinson hope that Last Will and Embezzlement will “shine a light on this global problem, help those who have potentially-vulnerable adults in their lives to be on the look-out for signs of victimization, and maybe even make some waves in the communities where the rights of these citizens are not being looked after and protected by the public servants and law enforcement officials who are charged with that responsibility.”
“I’m not ashamed to say I shed tears as I sat on the sidelines and listened to the stories of the brave families as they were filmed speaking out and giving a voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves,” said Robinson.
In the film, attorney Wiesner notes that financial abuse of the elderly is growing because the population is aging, “so you have an increasingly vulnerable population and you have an increasing economic strain on the part of the family.”