Elder abuse is not limited to physical violence or neglect. Seniors are also susceptible to elder financial abuse, so Los Angeles elder law lawyers know the signs and can help you determine whether you need to be concerned. According to one study, millions of elderly residents are victims of financial abuse, including “unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.” It is estimated that this elder financial abuse results in an average loss or more than $140,000 per victim.
What type of conduct is considered elder financial abuse
The reality is, elder financial abuse can come in a wide variety of different forms. Some common examples include taking money or property from and elderly person or using that person’s property or money without permission. In some cases, someone may forge an elder’s signature or persuade them to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney using deception, coercion, or undue influence. Some people will even promise long-term care in exchange for money or property, but then fail to fulfill that promise.
Fraud, which is the use of false pretense or deception for personal gain, is often used in committing financial abuse. Con games or scams, including telemarketing scams, are very commonly used against elderly individuals. Telemarketers are known to call elder victims and, using deception, scare tactics, or exaggerated claims, persuade them to send money to a fake company. Some manage to secure charges against an elderly victim’s credit card without proper authorization. Our Los Angeles elder law lawyers can help you determine whether fraud should be a concern.
Relatives are common perpetrators of elder financial abuse
The unfortunate reality is that family members are some of the most common perpetrators of elder financial abuse. However, in those situations, the relatives typically have issues with gambling, finances or substance abuse. In other cases, certain relatives may believe that they should inherit certain property and actually feel justified in taking what they believe rightfully belongs to them. Other relatives may be afraid that an older relative, from whom they will likely inherit, will require long-term care and exhaust their savings on that care, leaving their relatives without an inheritance.
Others who may commit elder financial abuse
There are also situations where negative feelings towards either the elderly relative or toward other family members who may stand to inherit can lead to fraud or financial abuse. The abuse could be a means to prevent others from acquiring or inheriting the assets to which the perpetrator feels entitled in some way.
Certain predatory individuals actually seek out seniors they believe to be vulnerable with the specific intent of exploiting them. These people might pretend to love the elderly person in order to lure them into including them in their will. Some individuals purposefully seek jobs as personal care attendants, for example, in order to gain access to the senior, their property and their finances.
Finally, there are always those dishonest professionals or people pretending to be professionals, who routinely overcharge for services or products, use deceptive or unfair business practices, or use their positions of trust or respect to coerce elders to depart with their money or property. It is certainly wise to consult with one of our Los Angeles elder law lawyers to seek recourse.
Who is most at susceptible to falling victim to elder financial abuse
As good Los Angeles elder law lawyers know and recognize, there are certain factors that actually increase the risk of an elder being victimized. Usually, that would include being isolated, feeling lonely, or suffering a recent loss. Physical and mental disabilities also make elders more vulnerable, as well as, not being familiar with financial matters.
How can I protect my elderly loved one from financial abuse?
The first step in protecting a loved one from elder financial abuse is to be able to recognize the signs of abuse. Some of those indicators include unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts, bank statements that no longer come to your loved one’s home (indicating that they may have been diverted), and unpaid bills and eviction notices.
Other warning signs include new “best friends” or caregivers who express an inappropriate interest in your loved one’s finances. Missing property or suspicious signatures on checks or legal documents, as well as, the existence of powers of attorney that your loved one does not quite understand.
It must be remembered that some of these signs may easily be explained by other things and no single factor should be considered conclusive evidence of abuse. Instead, it is necessary to look for patterns or several signs that would likely suggest a problem.
If you have questions regarding financial abuse, or any other elder law issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.