Helen and Hank Kawecki have lived in their Thousand Oaks, CA home for 56 years, but are now facing eviction after defaulting on three large loans that their grandson took out.
The Kaweckis deeded their house to their grandson, Chadd Moore and, in turn, were swindled and robbed blind by a family member they thought they could trust.
One would think that a family member could never stoop so low, but alas, elder financial abuse at the hands of a loved one happens far too often.
According to the California Attorney General’s office, financial abuse happens when: someone takes or assists in taking, appropriating or retaining personal property of an elder with an intent to defraud, or if they act in bad faith of the people whom they represent. This clearly happened to the Kawecki’s, so what happens next?
The difficult part is going to be recouping damages and getting to stay in their house. In order to do this, they’ll have to figure out a way to either pay back the loans which the grandson took out and intentionally defaulted on, or get the grandson to give back the loans.
A civil lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Kawekis in an effort to reclaim their property, but this is a very long and expensive process. The couple has raised a substantial amount through GoFundMe page in order to help pay for legal fees and potential moving expenses, but if you lived in the same house for 56 years you wouldn’t want to leave either.
how do you Spot and report elder Financial abuse?
ElderThe process for this differs slightly by state, but in California, where this couple currently resides, the CA Department of Consumer Affairs outlines the options one has in terms of who to reach out to when filing a complaint, including getting local law enforcement involved.
A very common form of elder financial abuse occurs through power of attorney. Granting someone power of attorney allows them to make financial and medical decisions for you.
Preventing this from happening is usually not on the forefront of an elder’s mind; if a close family member says they want to help, they will probably believe them. But it should always be who you choose to be power of attorney. If someone comes to you requesting these privileges, they may very well have something sinister in mind. Another good way to prevent this is if you make it a “springing” power of attorney, meaning that it won’t go into effect until you are deemed mentally incapable of handling your own affairs.
From early reports, it’s unclear if the Kaweckis granted their grandson power of attorney, all we know is that they deeded him the house. In their situation -if they had granted him POA, it’s easy to simply discontinue the power of attorney; the Kaweckis seem to be of sound mind and body, and so can have the privileges revoked at any time.
What Charges Might Their Grandson Face?
In terms of potential penalties that the grandson might face, the California Penal Code details a number of situations that could apply to this type of elder abuse. A blatant disregard for his grandparent’s well-being and harm done to their psyche could see him charged with a felony, which would mean thousands of dollars in fines as well as a few years in jail. If there is to be a happy ending to this story, hopefully that happens.
The Kawecki’s reportedly have until tomorrow to vacate their home, but they are hoping that, even if they do have to leave, it’s only temporary. Locals are helping move their stuff into storage until the lawsuit straightens everything out.
(Update: 7/27, 8:25 A.M.) Last night, the judge ordered a stay of execution of 60 days, according to the couple’s GoFundMe page set up by their neighbor.