Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is not only a thing, but it is a relatively common occurrence. It can be perpetrated by family, friends, or complete strangers. In each case, however, the results are devastating. The good news is that laws exist to both protect the elderly from financial abuse and to criminally and financially punish those who commit elder financial abuse. The first step to righting this wrong, however, is knowing that there is a specific problem. Here are 4 common signs to look for when trying to determine if a senior is being financially abused.
1) Money goes missing
Perhaps the most common sign of elder financial abuse is that money and valuables begin to disappear. This can manifest in obvious signs such as disappearing possessions or in not-so obvious signs such as bills not being paid on time despite ample financial resources, the senior not being allowed to spend money on things they want, or their accounts show suspicious activity such as unauthorized ATM withdrawals. Oftentimes, this can be a result of the caregiver threatening to withhold care until the senior gives up access to their bank account or property.
2) Legal documents are changed
While it may not be overtly obvious that documents have been changed, it can be a sure sign that something is amiss. It could be that the senior has signed a new power of attorney in favor of someone else, giving that person control over the senior’s accounts and finances. It can be a change in their will to disinherit or otherwise cut out family members who were previously included. In extreme cases, it can include signing over the title of property. These can be particularly suspicious when they are driven by a third party and not by the senior themselves, especially when the senior seems unable to comprehend the decisions.
3) Sudden and profound changes occur
These can be changes in the status of the elderly person’s finances, including bank accounts losing significant amounts of money quickly, transfers of property, changes in the will, or new credit cards and bank accounts are being opened. These can also be signs of identity theft, a particularly pernicious form of financial abuse.
4) The person becomes isolated and inaccessible
Often times the financial abuser will keep the elderly person away from their friends and family to avoid having their financial abuse uncovered. They may go to such lengths as refusing to allow the elderly person to speak to family or friends outside of their presence or even at all.
There are tools available to help you fight elder financial abuse. One of the best is knowing what elder financial abuse looks like so when you do see it, you can get it stopped as quickly as possible. Once you reach that point, it is always advisable to consult with an attorney about the steps to take to recover the money.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is the victim of elder financial abuse, consider calling the Trembly Law Firm for a consultation on your options for recovery.