Elder Financial Abuse

Do you feel like your parents have been victimized?  Or an aunt or uncle?  Or a close family friend or neighbor?

Elder abuse doesn’t necessarily refer to physical abuse or emotional abuse.  Elder abuse can also take the form of fiduciary exploitation.

TYPES OF ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE:

Misappropriation of Assets
•Access to checking/savings accounts
•Access to debit/credit cards

Deceptive use of Power of Attorney
•Altered wills
•Refinanced mortgages
•Real estate transactions
•Borrowed money with victim’s identity

It is one of the fastest growing problems we are facing today.  The Baby Boomer generation is advancing in age and improvements in medicine are increasing our life expectancy and the aging population is growing.  And growing with it is a rise in crimes against the elderly.

You would think that when someone has stolen from you that you would report it immediately.  Victims of elder financial abuse do not always repot the crime.  Sad but unfortunately it is true.

Try to imagine the feelings an elderly individual goes through when they discover that they have been taken advantage of.  Do they feel they have to protect the perpetrator because it’s a family member? They may even begin to question their own judgment because they put their trust in the wrong person.  Or are they concerned that they may be at risk of completely losing their independence because they trusted the wrong person?

Faced with this wide range of emotion some would much rather suffer in silence than let anyone know what has happened.  And sometimes the discovery of the financial abuse is all too late.  The loss can be devastating not just emotionally but financially as well.

But did you know, it’s not just care givers that can be perpetrators of this crime?  Others such as  neighbors, trusted friends and even family can drain accounts.  These criminals intercept the mail, recover bank and/or investment statements.  They can steal blank checks, social security checks, transfer ownership of property or change beneficiary information on wills or insurance plans.  The list can go on and on.

Members of our elderly community can be easy targets.  Some elderly individuals are not mobile.  Some have been widowed and some have no family at all.  They are easily isolated by the perpetrator.  Some elderly individuals may have real estate that has appreciated over the years and they are unaware of their home’s value.  These criminals  position themselves to be trusted either by the elderly individual or family members who are entrusting them with the care of their loved ones.  Criminals that prey on the elderly may be bold in what they take because they may think the life expectancy of their vicitim is failrly short.  Their assumption could be that if they are frail they either will not live long enough to file suit or they will not be able to articulate what has happened to them.

A caregiver may have coerced an elderly man/woman to disinherit their children by eliminating them from a will.  A sibling may be unhappy with their inheritance and produce a handwritten will also known as a holographic will at the last minute that leaves everything to them.  Maybe your loved one’s wishes aren’t being carried out because their will is being contested.  Mysterious wills appear out of no where and are pupported to be the real last will and testament of the deceased.

No one is immune to it.  Even celebrities and famous socialites have fallen to elder financial abuse such as Mickey Rooney, Zsa Zsa Gabor,  New York’s Socialite Brooke Astor and Lilianne Bettancourt (heiress to the L’Oreal fortune).

An attorney can assist you with these issues, however, Roxanne Brand can help with determining if a document has been tampered with or a signature copied or simulated.  We use a variety of methods to determine the authenticity of a document or signature.

If you are interested in more literature on Elder Abuse follow these links:

http://www.preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/elder-abuse-and-neglect.htm

https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/mmi-study-broken-trust-elders-family-finances.pdf