Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
Elder financial abuse. It has been called the “crime of the century” and involves a broad spectrum of crimes against those aged 65 or older. Some examples of elder financial abuse are:
- Taking money or property
- Forging an elderly person’s signature
- Using an older person’s property or possessions without permission
- Getting an older person to sign over property via a deed, will, trust, or power of attorney, through deception, coercion, or undue influence
Sadly, many abusers are family members, perhaps a child with a substance abuse problem, or one with a sense of entitlement. There are also unscrupulous professionals who may overcharge for products, or who use their positions of trust to gain compliance. Other predatory exist, as well: predators who seek out vulnerable seniors with the intent to exploit them.
The elderly are attractive targets for a variety of reasons. They control the vast majority of the nation’s wealth, yet fail to realize the trust value of their assets. The elderly are likely to have disabilities resulting in their dependence on others. Predators assume that, because the elderly can be frail, that they will not survive long enough to follow through on legal interventions.
If you are caring for, or involved with, an elderly person on any level, be on the lookout for some of the signs that elder financial abuse may be occurring. Some of these signs are as follows:
- Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue services
- Withdrawals from bank accounts that the older person cannot explain
- New “best friends,” especially those who want to keep you from your loved one
- Legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person did not understand at the time he or she signed them
If you suspect elder financial abuse, please do not be silent. The National Center on Elder Abuse’s website has links to each state’s resource directory, which will include a Helpline to report suspected elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. If you have any questions about this, or simply need additional support, please call or email me. It is my honor to serve you and your loved ones.
Cheri Elson, J.D.
Gray Matters Consulting
To read more on this subject:
Elderly Financial Abuse Exploitation and Prevention
Elder Financial Exploitation: National Adult Protective Services Association
Financial Exploitation of the Elderly