The Dilemma of Elderly Exploitation

Unfortunately, many unsuspecting senior citizens, who have diligently planned for retirement and their happy golden years, fall prey to financial abuse (elderly exploitation). This financial abuse can come at the hands of a complete stranger, a caregiver or even a beloved family member. For a senior citizen who has fallen victim to financial abuse, an attorney skilled in elder law may be able to assist by filing a lawsuit to recover the money or property taken as a result of this elderly exploitation. A report to local law enforcement authorities is also recommended to help prevent the elderly exploitation of others by the same perpetrator.

Not surprisingly, senior citizens are often targeted by scammers posing as investors, telemarketers, fundraisers or even their own granddaughters or grandsons, either via the telephone or the internet. Perpetrators use deception, scare tactics or exaggerated claims to induce the senior citizens to send money to the perpetrator. If a credit card number is obtained from the senior citizens, the perpetrator will use the credit card to rack up large balances. The main objective of these perpetrators is to swindle the senior citizen out of as much money as possible and in some instances even steal their identity.

Shockingly, even individuals who are close to the senior citizen, such as their caregivers or even a family member, may resort to other forms of financial abuse of the elderly. These abusers may take money or property, forge the senior citizen’s signature on documents or checks and even use the senior citizen’s property or possessions without permission. Worse, these abusers may even attempt to get the senior citizens to sign a deed, title, will or power of attorney in order to steal their money and property.

Whether the concern is for you or an elderly loved one, there are several signs that can indicate financial abuse is taking place. Such indicators include a sudden withdrawal of large amounts of cash, the unexpected ‘cashing in’ of stocks, bonds or annuities, an additional name or transfer of title on a bank or brokerage account, or limited or reduced access to the senior citizen by the abuser.

Fortunately there are measures that you can take to help prevent financial abuse. With the assistance of a knowledgeable elder law attorney, proper estate planning is one of the best ways to prevent financial abuse. Effective estate planning creates a system of checks and balances appointing more than one person to key positions. This means assigning co-agents under durable powers of attorney or co-trustees to help manage the senior citizen’s financial affairs. You might also want to name a third party, such as your attorney or certified public accountant to serve along with your family members.

In the event that you or your loved one has fallen victim to financial abuse or has failed to effectively create a system of checks and balances through proper estate planning, then it is imperative that you or your loved one seek legal counsel immediately. An attorney with expertise in the area of elder law and estate planning will be able to assist with recouping your losses (which may include a report being filed with local law enforcement officials) as well as properly plan for the future.

If you would like to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney at Maya Murphy, call 203-221-3100 or email rsweeting@mayalaw.com today!