Financial abuse – Use of a psychologist as Expert witness
In cases of financial elder abuse, it is often difficult to prove that fraud occurred. Mental capacity of the elder may have deteriorated to the point that they can provide significant testimony. A psychologist may be necessary to provide the testimony of the expert witness to prove that the former was vulnerable to manipulation and undue influence.
A psychologist is not a doctor but has the training and skills to assist the Court or the jury on the issue of mental incapacity and its relation to the totality of the circumstances that led to the necessary financial abuse. Role of the psychologist is a jurist; in other words, to go back and make an opinion as to whether if the former was likely to abuse of influence both the alleged abuse took place.
This is not an easy task, especially under the laws of California. The psychologist should first meet with the elder law attorney to be well informed about the facts. The expert witness should rely only on facts that the lawyer is that some may be proved at trial. If the senior is still alive, then the psychologist should meet personally with the old and conduct a review of mental capacity. Even if the elder is mentally incapacitated at the time of examination, the jury will want to know that the expert took the time to get an assessment of eye-witness and that it does not simply relied on the opinion of someone else.
Judicial review should focus on the mental capacity of the former both the financial abuse has occurred, which may have occurred many years ago. A thorough review of all medical data will be needed, with the aim to discover any reference to mental deficits.
The expert must also interview family members and friends of the former to discover their knowledge of the mental history of the former, including their observations of specific events and dates that identify the eldest or outlook propensities regarding financial issues. For example, these witnesses can all have known that the elder grew up during the great depression, has been very careful with money and would not have made any frivolous gifts or transfers.
They may also be able to inform the psychologist on the defendant and how the former became increasingly reclusive and isolated once the defendant has been involved in the life of the former.
The psychologist should also check the transcripts of deposits and other written discovery to be sure that all the evidence has been carefully considered and used form the basis of the opinion of the expert.
When all this has been accomplished, the psychologist must meet with the lawyer of the former expert to prepare for trial. This does not mean the witness of “coaching”. This is the process in which the lawyer is familiar with all the facts that the expert relied to reach an opinion.
A qualified psychologist can provide valuable expert witness testimony to prove that elder was susceptible to undue financial abuse and victims of influence.