Recently the oldest veteran in the United States was the victim of identity theft, leaving the 112-year-old man with a seriously depleted bank account. Sadly, strangers are not the only people taking advantage of our nation’s senior citizens. One of the most underreported forms of elder abuse occurring today is financial abuse and exploitation. Older citizens who must rely on their adult family members and professional caretakers are finding themselves being taken advantage of by the ones they should be able to trust the most. Recognizing signs of financial elder abuse could help you protect your loved ones from becoming the victim of this form of abuse.
Confusion About Transactions
Not every elderly person has memory issues or is unsure about their finances, so when someone who you know is usually pretty aware of their financial transactions seems confused about finances, that could be a huge sign of trouble. An elderly person who is suddenly surprised about withdrawals from their bank account that they do not remember making might not be having a memory slip. Instead of assuming that your loved one is exhibiting signs of diminished mental capacity, err on the side of caution and go over their finances with them. Someone may be making financial transactions without your loved one’s consent.
A Caretaker Behaving Suspiciously
In many cases a financial abuser is someone who is known to their victim and believes that they will eventually gain access to the elder person’s assets at some point in the future. When these people start financially exploiting a person in their care, they will usually begin behaving suspiciously. Watch out for a person who suddenly seems to be living above their means and who is evasive about the finances of the elderly person in their care. Caretakers might even begin behaving with open hostility if questioned about financial matters or missing personal documents.
Loved One Suddenly Isolated
Just like physical abuse, financial abuse may involve the abuser taking steps to isolate their victim. Once the victim is isolated and dependent upon the abuser, he or she may hesitate to report the abusive behavior out of fear that doing so will deprive the victim of the person who might be his or her only means of physical or emotional support. The person committing the abuse may even neglect the victim until they obtain signatures or authorization to transfer funds from the victim’s account to their own. Isolating your loved one makes it easier for the abuser to continue what they are doing without fear of reprimands or serious consequences.
Protect Your Loved Ones and Yourself
Each year, financial elder abuse costs families up to $36 billion and taking steps to protect your family now is an important part of keeping your legacy safe. The attorneys at MMZ Law are here to help you create an estate plan that outlines how you want your assets distributed along with whom you want handling your affairs should you become incapacitated. Our elder law lawyers are able to answer any questions you might have and help you make the best decisions possible. Call our Claremont, California office to schedule an initial consultation today.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.