Financial Abuse of the Elderly
When a loved one gets older, it is common for use to worry about them. Are their needs being met? Should they be put in a home? Can we trust those who are looking after them?
Sadly, these causes for concern are justified. Cases of abuse are far too common for us to pretend they don’t exist. One of the most common forms of elder mistreatment is financial abuse. This article will examine what financial abuse is, how it happens / who does it, and what you can do legally to correct the problem.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse is a diverse genre of mistreatment that encompasses the illegal embezzlement, theft, or misappropriation of funds or possessions of an elderly individual.
Often older folks have a difficult time managing their resources, and so depend on others to help them. It is at this time that unscrupulous individuals make attempts at taking property, land, goods, and money through acts of deception, intimidation, etc.
Who Could be Financially Abusing Your loved One?
To determine if your loved one is being abused financially, we first have to establish who could potentially be causing the abuse. The culprits could range from close family members to scammers continents away.
A surprisingly large amount of financial abuse cases occur between an older individual and their personal caretaker. Caretakers, who are often relatives or loved ones, are in a uniquely powerful position to commit financial abuse. With the trust of the victim in hand, the caretaker can slowly steal possessions out of the person’s home. They can also use coercion to get the older individual to sign away land, property, or access to bank accounts. Caretakers can also manipulate “power of attorney” and the layout of the last will and testament. An abusive personal caretaker can be a serious problem as they seemingly have the inside track to all matters regarding your loved one.
Structured Establishments (e.g. Nursing Homes)
Many people worry about the quality of care their loved ones will receive at nursing homes (as well they should be). However, one thing some people forget to do is keep a close eye on how that nursing home charges and handles the finances of the older individual. Always be certain to compare the level of cost to the amount of care and attention being given. If items and services show up on the bill that you believe have never been performed/given, it is important you follow up with the appropriate administrators. It is also important to monitor any new ‘best friends’ your loved one may develop in the home, especially in regards to staff. If the loved one starts adding these individuals into their will or buying lavish things for them, it could very easily be a case of conning, intimidation, or ‘sweetheart scamming’.
Scammers come in all shapes and sizes and from all over the world. Older people are susceptible to them due to the constant developments in technology and the potential for a loss in mental keen-ness. Some of the more obvious scammers come in the telemarketing realm. Often phone-scams target older folks who they believe they can scare or coerce. Watch for sharp increases in unusual checks being sent or for a check of exorbitant amount being sent to an unknown person/location. Always follow up with your loved one about these financial decisions and keep a close watch for anything that seems dishonest or too-good-to-be-true. Older folks are also susceptible to credit card hijacking or other account infiltrating. It can be difficult for anyone to keep their identity and numbers safe, and older people often have trouble keeping up with technology, accounts, numbers, etc.
Legal Recourse if Abuse is Discovered
If you sense foul play in regards to your loved one, don’t hesitate to act. Gather as much information and documentation as you can about the abuse being conducted. Find a local attorney in your area that specializes in these kinds of cases and do your best to stay one step ahead of the scammer. Don’t confront the abuser until you are certain you have the legal upper-hand. But more importantly, make sure you gain the legal upper hand as quickly as possible. Bill Hayes is owner of The Hayes Firm, a specialized personal injury attorney network designed to find the best lawyer for each individual client. Every incident is unique, and it’s important to have someone with many years of experience and an extensive network to help you find the right kind of attorney. Elder Abuse is one of Bill’s specialties and he will be able to properly guide you through the legal process and get you the help you need.