As the population of people over 65 increases, so does the incidence of elder abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, or financial. The San Diego Police Dept. reports that San Diego has over 300,000 seniors. One out of every 20 elders will be a victim of elder abuse sometime in their lifetime however many incidents go unreported.
Financial abuse is the taking or using of an elder’s money or assets contrary to the elder’s wishes or needs. It can be as simple as taking money from someone’s wallet or using an elder’s credit card to identity theft or telemarketing scams. In the area of estate planning, financial elder abuse may be misusing a power of attorney or using undue influence to cause an elder to change a will or a trust or a beneficiary designation. Financial abuse is particularly devastating to an older person as it can drain the victim of their life savings and cause them to feel helpless and worried about their future.
What are some of the warning signs that someone you know may be the victim of financial elder abuse?
1. Unusual bank withdrawals from an ATM or unusual checks written to strangers or containing signatures that do not look like the elder’s signature.
2. Missing checks or credit cards or unusual activity on a credit card.
3. The sudden appearance of a stranger who becomes close to the elder and seems to want to take over the elder’s financial affairs.
4. Home improvements or items purchased which seem unnecessary.
5. Changes in account beneficiaries or new signers on an account.
6. Execution of a new power of attorney.
7. Changes in property title, deeds, or new mortgages.
8. Changes in wills or trusts if the elder seems incompetent.
9. The elder seems confused about his or her financial affairs.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation handle elder abuse cases and can advise you about issues of elder abuse. Contact us for a complimentary consultation. Also look for later blog posts on steps to make the elder less vulnerable and remedies for elder abuse.