Local Family Shares Story of Elder Abuse

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In Marathon, Lincoln and Langlade counties alone more than 45 to 50 cases of elder abuse and neglect are reported every month.

In a story that first aired Wednesday on NewsChannel 7 at 10, we told you what local law enforcement is doing to crack down on elder abuse. Since then, many viewers have come forward to share their personal stories.

While local District Attorney's are prosecuting more and more cases of elder abuse, one family says they would like to see lawyers held accountable for protecting the elderly as well.

Karla Kurtz's Aunt Virginia fell victim to elder abuse earlier this year after her then neighbors manipulated the 86-year-old into making them her durable power of attorney. That gave the couple full power over Virginia and her estate.

Now Kurtz says there's nothing she and her family can do to fix it.

She and her husband didn't even know about the change until Virginia became ill and was put in the hospital. That's when the truth came out. Now, Kurtz is questioning whether stricter guidelines for attorneys could have stopped the abuse before it started.

"The burden is very light on the attorney to prove the client is competent," Kurtz explained.

Unlike a doctor, all an attorney has to do to prove competency is ask three questions. First, does that person know they're executing a will. Second, do they know who their beneficiaries are. And third, does the individual have assets.

Kurtz tells NewsChannel in order to strip her Aunt's neighbors of durable power of attorney they would have to prove, using medical records, Virginia was not mentally competent at the time she signed the papers. Kurtz says proving that would be next to impossible.

The abuse took place in California where Virginia was living at the time. Her family has since moved her to Wausau where she is improving, but is still suffering with a lot of physical, mental and emotional effects of the abuse.

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