Elder abuse takes many forms, but one of the most common is financial abuse where the elderly person’s assets are drained or at least significantly depleted by fraud, theft, and similar schemes. Many times this happens because the elderly person may no longer be keeping close track of their finances, or worse, they may be taken advantage of by others such as caregivers or contractors. Financial abuse of the elderly is preventable, however, using these steps.
1) Be present and visit often. One of the more insidious versions of elder financial abuse is perpetrated by caregivers who isolate their victim and then drain their bank accounts, either without their knowledge or through undue influence. Having family members or trusted friends visiting on a regular basis with the elderly person will make the potential abuser think twice about preying on this particular person.
2) Be another set of eyes. Be watchful, and not just through visiting your loved one. If your loved one will allow, you may be able to keep an eye on their accounts and finances to ensure nothing suspicious is going on and money is not disappearing. Keep an eye also on precious or expensive items belonging to the person to make sure they have not gone missing. Also, it is advisable to have pictures taken of these items for insurance purposes in the event they are lost or stolen.
3) Get a joint account. For family members of elderly persons who are getting more mentally limited or who may be particularly vulnerable, a joint account may be a good way to control where the money goes. A joint owner has the power to write checks from the account and make investment decisions, which can be especially important in ensuring that certain bills are paid on time.
4) Limit access to the money. Another option is to limit the access of the elderly person to their funds, especially if they are vulnerable to requests of others. This can be done through using a limited-balance credit card for which the bill is sent to a trusted person or relative.
5) Limit the requests for money. Phone and mail solicitations can represent a minefield for some people who feel compelled to give to everyone and every cause that comes their way. One way to handle this is to stop the flow of the requests. Sign the person up for the do not call registry and reach out to persistent charities to have the individual removed from their mailing list.
6) Consult the attorneys at Trembly Law. The attorneys at Trembly Law are well-versed with elder financial abuse and the various legal instruments that can be confected to stem it or cut it out entirely. They can also assist with elder financial planning to ensure adequate measures are in place for when a person begins to decline. Attorney Brett Trembly can also go to court to help try to recover property that is stolen and even possibly get attorney’s fees and punitive damages from the perpetrator.
Elder financial abuse is very real and can be devastating to all who are involved. Getting good counsel to draft documents to set up trusts or other legal instruments to protect access to financial assets on the front end is vital. Having an attorney that can handle litigation if it does come to that even more so. Trembly Law provides those services with compassion and expertise. Call us today to get started.