Senior citizens are sadly vulnerable to being taken advantage of, especially if they have mental or physical challenges. While no two cases of elder abuse are the same, there are certain things you should look for in determining if mistreatment or neglect has occurred. Some of the clues can be the result of other causes, so any single indicator is not conclusive evidence that your loved one is being taken advantage of financially. However, if you see a pattern, it is time to take immediate action.
If you have an elderly loved one, it is essential to understand that they are a target for financial abuse. There are numerous reasons why elderly people are targeted:
- Over 70% of our country’s wealth is owned by individuals over the age of 50 years.
- Seniors are more likely to have disabilities that make them dependent on others for assistance. It is common for an older person’s helper to have unsupervised access to their home, assets, and computer. Additionally, the person giving aid to the elder may exercise significant influence over them.
- Many older people do not realize the value of their assets.
- Seniors often live according to a predictable schedule, including when their monthly checks arrive. This allows con artists to predict when they will have money on hand or need to go to the bank.
- Scammers are aware that senior citizens may not survive long enough to pursue legal action against them. Also, seniors often do not make convincing witnesses.
- Elderly persons are less likely to report abuse because they are embarrassed or illness prevents them from doing so.
Now that you know why an older adult may be a target, let’s consider some of the signs that financial abuse is taking place.
How to Identify It: Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
There are several common indicators that an older person is experiencing financial elder abuse.
These red flags include:
- Their assets or personal belongings go missing.
- They have a new friend that is exercising influence over them.
- They are not paying their bills.
- You notice unexplained withdrawals or transfers from their bank accounts or unusual use of credit cards and personal loans.
- Bank statements are no longer delivered to the elder’s home.
- They have executed new legal documents without understanding what they signed.
- You notice questionable signatures on their checks or other financial documents.
- They do not understand financial arrangements that have occurred and cannot answer your questions regarding their finances.
While these are examples of signs that show financial elder abuse may be occurring, it is essential to note there may be other signs as well. A senior citizen needs to have somebody trustworthy monitoring their finances. The more involved relatives are in an elderly person’s life, the less likely abuse will occur. This may mean taking steps such as seeking to be appointed as their conservator.
Who Commits Financial Elder Abuse and Why?
Now that we have reviewed some of the signs, it is also important to note the common culprits of financial abuse. The ones that may seem the most obvious are con artists. These individuals often work to befriend elderly people to gain access to their finances or persuade them to “invest” in false companies.
But most often, it is those individuals close to the elderly who are uniquely positioned to commit financial abuse, such as family members, friends, and caretakers. But why might these individuals take advantage of the elderly adult in their lives? They may have a sense of entitlement.
Because of their often close relationship with the older adult, they are able to persuade and influence to gain access to their finances. These individuals may also be in a position where they have already been granted access to the older person’s funds through power of attorney. They abuse that access by stealing rather than stewarding those assets.
It is also possible for older persons to be taken advantage of by people they are not as close to but have hired to help them manage their assets. These can include professionals such as attorneys and financial advisors.
What to Do If You See Financial Elder Abuse Signs
In some cases, people avoid reporting elder abuse, often because they are unsure or uncomfortable getting involved and questioning the older adult’s financial decisions. However, it is imperative to ensure they are not being taken advantage of or neglected.
Whether they live independently or receive care, such as in a nursing home, you must contact adult protective services if you believe financial abuse occurs. If you see signs of physical abuse and neglect, it is critical to contact emergency services immediately.
Is your elderly relative located in California? If you are concerned about them being subjected to financial abuse, contact us to schedule your no-cost consultation.
We can help you take action to stop the financial abuse of an elderly loved one. There are lots of good reasons to act quickly if you think financial exploitation is occurring.
If you have an elderly loved one located in California and that you believe has been the victim of financial abuse, contact The Legacy Lawyers for help in taking steps to protect them. Simply call toll-free: (800) 840-1998. At The Legacy Lawyers, we provide assistance and peace of mind by offering our services to individuals located in the state of California.