When most people think of elder abuse, they think of physical or mental distress or injury.
However, abuse can be financial as well, and elderly individuals are particularly susceptible to financial abuse and exploitation.
Any time an unauthorized individual uses another’s funds, assets, or property without permission, he or she is engaging in financial abuse.
In the case of elder financial abuse, many older adults may not realize that misappropriation of funds has occurred because they may not handle their own money on a regular basis.
Older adults may not fully understand the type of authority they have given others to act on their behalf.
Examples of elder financial abuse include:
- Cashing checks without permission or authorization
- Forging signatures
- Stealing or misusing money or other property
- Tricking an older adult into signing documents, including contracts or wills
- Improperly using power of attorney, conservatorship or guardianship
- Misusing automatic payments
Elder financial abuse occurs far more often than most people realize.
A 2009 study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse reported that elder financial abuse costs victims roughly $2.6 billion each year.
Family members should be sure to keep a watchful eye on their loved one’s finances and address any concerns as soon as possible.
Relatives and friends should watch for these signs of financial abuse:
- Frequent checks written to a certain financial professional or caregiver
- Sudden changes in banking habits (regular or large withdrawals)
- Missing property from an individual’s room or home
- Names added to a bank card
- Unexplained money transfers
- Unexpected changes to a will or financial documents (life insurance, pension, etc.)
- Living conditions are below financial resources
- Abnormal-looking signatures on titles of possessions
The most common perpetrators of elder financial abuse are family members, friends, and care providers or nursing home employees whom the older adult trusts.
In order to prevent elder financial abuse, it is important to have several family members involved in a system of checks and balances that will protect the elder’s finances and property.
Elder financial fraud can leave an older adult vulnerable and deny him or her of necessary resources that protect his or her well-being. If you are aware or suspect elder financial fraud is being conducted against your loved one, you may be able to take legal action.
The nursing home abuse attorneys at Henness & Haight can help your determine if you have options to file a lawsuit that may recover your loved one’s stolen assets. All of our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for your claim.