How to Recognize Financial Elder Abuse

As estate planning attorneys, Morris Hall has a goal to protect our clients using our knowledge of estate planning tools. This goal reaches not only to basic estate planning, but to those who are in need of advanced elder care. Those in such a position may not be aware of others who maybe trying to manipulate or victimized them – including financially.

Those who suffer elder abuse may not indicate that such an occurrence is happening. In fact, they may even be unaware, especially if suffering from a cognitive disorder. It is important for those close to them to recognize the signs of financial abuse.

Below are a few items that may indicate financial elder abuse (please note, these are simply indicators and are not soul determining factors):

  • An elderly individual that seems to be strongly influenced by a friend, relative or caregiver. This individual may be seeking control of the elder individual’s transactions, while keeping them passive
  • Changes in an elderly individual’s financial account and life insurance beneficiaries
  • Accounts with new authorized signers or joint account holders
  • A caregiver offering care, in exchange for access to bank accounts or other assets
  • A sudden change in the elderly individual’s financial status or financial account activity
  • Changes to property titles
  • New financial arrangements that they seem confused about or unable to explain
  • A diminishment in their level of personal care or hygiene, particularly when her financial means would suggest a higher standard of care

Who Are the Abusers?

Financial abuse makes up a significant proportion of all the elder abuse cases reported each year. In a 2004 National Center on Elder Abuse Study, 15 percent of elder abuse cases involved financial exploitation. And while we’d like to think financial abuse of the elderly is committed by sleazy telemarketers or door-to-door salesmen, 66 percent of abusers are family members of the elderly individual. Please be aware of this problem and protect your loved ones from financial exploitation, especially when they are more vulnerable during their elder years.