Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is all too common and we see cases of it frequently. If you want to protect your senior loved ones, it’s best to be aware of what to look out for and how you can prevent any financial abuse from happening. In this article, our elder law attorneys in NJ will outline the signs of elder financial abuse and how to successfully avoid it.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
According to the CDC, elder financial abuse is, “The illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual’s resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the benefit of someone other than the older individual.
This includes depriving an older person of rightful access to, information about, or use of, personal benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.”
Signs of Elder Financial Abuse: What to Look Out For
Elderly people who have some type of cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s disease, are the most vulnerable to financial abuse. However, even mentally-sound older adults often fall prey to financial abuse from people they know and trust. Here are several signs to look out for:
- Checks written to “cash”
- They transfer their assets to friends who are assisting them with their finances
- They can’t explain their current financial situation, or they make excuses when you ask
- You notice unpaid bills piling up, despite them being able to afford to pay them previously
- They start uncharacteristically spending money, or giving it away more frequently
How to Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones
The first step is having a discussion with them about their vulnerabilities. Fair warning, they’ll likely give you resistance on this. Oftentimes, older adults have trouble accepting that they’re not completely in control of their lives anymore. However, it’s a conversation that must be had. When having the conversation, it’s important to reiterate that anyone could fall victim to financial abuse and you are assisting with the situation because you care. To reduce the chances of elder financial abuse, we recommend that seniors simplify their finances, develop a network of trusted people to monitor financial activity, and draft a financial Power of Attorney (PoA) to legally reduce the risk of abuse.
For more information about how to detect and prevent elder financial abuse, or if you have any questions about creating a financial Power of Attorney for your loved one, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/