Elder financial abuse is a very real situation that can cause immense problems for both the elder being abused and for an entire family in general. The behaviors of the perpetrators can be extremely damaging and may often require the abused to seek legal assistance. If family members contribute to the abuse of an elder, it is suggested that an attorney step in and assist in stopping the abuse and finding compensation. Who the perpetrators might be, their behaviors and which types of elderly individuals that may be at risk are all aspects of elderly financial abuse that should be addressed.
Who Might Be A Perpetrator?
Often, the main perpetrators of elderly financial abuse are the victim’s spouse, family members, or someone whom the victim is emotionally close to. Perpetrators of elderly financial abuse usually gain the trust and confidence of the victim to financially manipulate them.
What Are the Beliefs and Behaviors of a Perpetrator?
The beliefs and behaviors of a perpetrator of elderly financial abuse generally consist of:
- Financially deprived individuals and those with poor money management skills seeking money
- Individuals that believe the victim’s assets are rightfully theirs and seek inheritance of funds, properties, or possession in the event of the death of the victim
- Individuals that seek to manipulate the elder’s use of savings to gain the maximum amount of expected inheritance
- Individuals who show signs of jealousy towards other family members
Who Could Be A Victim?
The victims of elderly financial abuse and manipulation are often those who:
- Are mentally or physically disabled
- Live alone or are Isolated
- Have experienced the recent loss of a spouse, family member, or close friend
- Do not have money management skills
- Do not have knowledge of modern technologies
- Have divisive family member or friends
How Can I Tell If An Elderly Person is Being Financially Abused?
It can be hard to recognize the financial abuse of an elderly person sometimes, and in some cases, it may be fairly obvious. Some signs that an elderly person is being financially abused or manipulated include:
- The victim makes large or unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts or has large amounts of cash in their home
- The victim has unpaid bills that are usually paid on time every month
- The victim has a new friend who has randomly appeared in their life
- The victim does not get the best care they can even when they can afford it
- Property of the victim has gone missing or they have “gifted” it to the perpetrator
- The perpetrator has forged the victim’s signature on checks and other legal documents
- The perpetrator has forcibly taken control of the victim’s finances or property
What Are Some Signs of Perpetrator Abuse?
Perpetrators of elder financial abuse often show signs that they are taking or attempting to take money or possessions from an elderly individual. These signs include:
- Neglect, physical violence, threats, or emotional manipulation of the victim
- Frequent demands or requests for money or property
- Coercion of finances or financial documents to the perpetrator
How to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse
Preventing the financial manipulation and abuse of elders is a community effort. Recognizing when an elderly person may be financially abused is the first step. Preventing elder financial abuse involves:
- Recognizing anyone who may be at risk. This includes getting the know your elderly neighbors and watching for signs that someone may be trying to take advantage of them financially.
- Being in frequent contact with elderly relatives and friends and checking in on them. Gaining insight into their moods and behaviors will let you know if anything is off and will let you know if there is the possibility of financial abuse from a perpetrator.
- Get legal support. Lawyers can assist with any instances of elder financial abuse. Lawyers are able of establishing wills and trusts in which the chance of financial manipulation of the person under which these legal documents are created can be better-protected from financial manipulation.
Why Should You Seek Professional Help
In some instances, the only solution to the financial abuse of an elderly person is to get legal help. Sometimes individuals may not feel the need or may not feel comfortable reporting financial abuse of the elderly. Reasons may vary on a case by case basis, however here are some main reasons that victims often do not report:
Fear: An elderly person who is being manipulated for money or property may be experiencing a significant amount of fear from their perpetrator. Physical threats or emotional abuse are generally used by a perpetrator to promote fear in the individual that is being abused, causing them to be willing to let the abuse continue.
Embarrassment: A person being financially abused may feel embarrassed about their situation. They may feel as though revealing that they are being manipulated with their money or possessions is very embarrassing which would deter them from seeking help.
Mental Illness or Disability: Often, mental illness in an elderly person can cause them not to be able to recognize a situation of financial abuse. Similarly, an elderly person with a disability may become dependent on their abuser for assistance, which makes for a situation of not reporting anything.
Financial abuse or manipulation of an elderly person is a tricky situation that can be devastating not only for the victim but for friends and family witnessing it. Such a situation can present problems that are hard for individuals to solve on their own. The best thing to do if you or someone you know is being abused financially is to either report it to authorities or to seek the help of a legal professional.
Are you or a loved one experiencing elderly financial abuse? Get in contact with us today to get the legal advice that you need. Our attorneys live and practice in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. We are a client business service and provide prompt and cost-efficient legal services with specific expertise in estate planning.
Although we would never wish it upon any of our loved ones, elder financial abuse occurs frequently throughout the United States and globally. It happens when someone, often a relative, friend, or caregiver, steals or extorts money from a senior.