Today’s New York Times brings us  depressing news of yet another attorney fallen from grace for not being able to keep her hands off of the property of an elderly person over whom she had been appointed guardian. The Appellate Division has suspended Emani Taylor for allegedly converting the property of retired Supreme Court Justice John L. Phillips after saying that she had failed to cooperate with the court’s investigation into her actions.

Yes, I said that the victim is a retired state Supreme Court  Justice! In fact, having once earned a 10th degree Black Belt, Justice Phillips was known as the "kung fu Judge". Now, thirteen years after he retired from the Bench, much of his property has been dissipated improperly and his financial future is in doubt.

The bottom line here is that NONE of us is immune to this kind of disaster. Have a plan for your own future as you get on in years and take special interest into how older loved ones are protected from avaricious and untrustworthy relatives, advisors (and yes, unfortunately, even trusted attorneys) . Do not be afraid to conduct your own investigation into the affairs of a loved one who appears to be experiencing some unexpected difficulties.

Most important, play an active role in the lives of your elderly relatives. Of course, by doing so you will be bringing much warmth, comfort and happiness into their lives (you will also be setting an example for your own children who some day will be charged with your care, feeding and general welfare). That way, you will be in a position to notice those changes which so often presage an elderly person falling victim to somebody they trust.