Increase in Vancouver property values increases potential for financial elder abuse.
- With the average price of Vancouver real estate exceeding $1 million, homes owned by the elderly are far more valuable than they have been historically. As well, in many cases there is no mortgage as the owner’s paid off their mortgage over the many years that they lived in the home. This can make it relatively easy to obtain a mortgage on the home.
- We have been involved in several cases where relatives or “friends” of an elderly person have taken steps to have the vulnerable home owner mortgage his or her home and then take some or all of the proceeds of the mortgage. This is typically done by taking the elderly owner to their bank and arranging a mortgage said to be for the benefit of the owner to cover “expenses” when in fact the primary purpose of the mortgage is to benefit the “friend” or relative who persuaded the vulnerable owner to mortgage their home.
- Unfortunately banks, credit unions, lawyers and notaries are not as careful as they should be in identifying potentially abusive situations when presented with an elderly person who seeks a mortgage on their home. This has resulted in mortgages being granted by financial institutions and registered against the property in circumstances when common sense would dictate the financial institutions, lawyers and notaries make closer inquiries as to the reasons for the mortgage and the motivation of those pushing the elder owner into the mortgage.
- This abuse sometimes only becomes apparent to others when the “friend” or relative uses the money for their own purposes and the elder owner of the property doesn’t have sufficient money to make the necessary mortgage payments and the home ends up in foreclosure. At that point the lawyer’s role is to attempt to set aside the mortgage on the basis that the elder owner was incapable and to pursue the “friend” or relative who made off with the money. While we have been successful on several occasions in doing that for victims, it is best to take steps to prevent that from occurring in the 1st.
- Practically speaking, if you hear of a relative who has entered into a mortgage of their property for no apparent good reason and you have concerns as to the fact they may be unduly influenced by a family member who would benefit from the mortgage proceeds, you should consider consulting a lawyer experienced in these matters as well as lodging a complaint with the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.