The Facts on Financial Abuse
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the abuse of their caregivers, whether that abuse is physical, emotional, psychological, or financial. While physical abuse presents itself in visual ways, other forms of abuse can exist under the surface where they are harder to identify.
What Financial Abuse Looks Like
For many seniors, as they age, it is appropriate and reasonable for their caregivers to take over managing their finances. This is not automatically abusive behavior by any means.
It may be financial abuse, however, when:
- Caregiver’s name is added to all the senior’s accounts. If the caregiver is paying the bills or managing the senior’s money, there needs to be regular accounting and oversight.
- Senior’s bank habits change rapidly; for example, large sums of cash being withdrawn.
- Caregiver is given a credit or debit card to purchase household items, but does not provide receipts or demonstrate the need for all the expenses.
- Senior rewrites his will to include the caregiver. This is especially troubling if the caregiver is new and the senior has had a long-standing plan for division of his assets.
For a senior, simply having someone trustworthy to serve as a second set of eyes on all financial transactions can help avoid financial abuse—but not always. Sometimes the scam artist is a professional caregiver, but sometimes it’s a family member, and that can be just as traumatic.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Financial Abuse?
Seniors are prime targets for abuse. The sad reality is that many elders are lonely, frightened, and unaware of the scams that exist. They may be the victims of fraudulent phone calls, romantic relationship ploys, or monetary “calls for help” from people who just want their money.
If you think that your family member is being taken advantage of financially, there are steps you should take. First of all, alert Adult Protective Services in your area. Second, it may be necessary to involve the local financial officials, accountants, or others familiar with your senior’s finances to investigate whether there has been any misconduct or wrongdoing.
Being dependent on loved ones for care is a complicated part of senior life. Being abused by those entrusted with that care is unfathomable. If you or someone you love was taken advantage of, speak to an elder abuse attorney at Siegel Law. Call (562) 645-4145 to find out your legal options.