Entrusting a loved one in a nursing home is always a difficult decision. Discovering that someone is taking advantage of a loved one can be as heartbreaking as it is infuriating.
In any form, financial elder abuse is a crime. In elders with dementia, getting a statement may be difficult, if not impossible. Unfortunately, most of these crimes aren’t random—they’re deliberate and usually involve a family member, a caregiver, or someone else with a connection.
Long-lost family members that appear suddenly, nursing home staff (or home caregivers) that are very familiar with your loved one’s financial affairs, and others who don’t normally have a place in their life may be working towards taking money from an elder. This could take the form of:
- Valuable property that goes missing (i.e., jewelry)
- New contracts, deeds or mortgages
- Bank accounts with new co-signers, or activity in unused bank accounts
- ISF (insufficient funds) charges, or overdraft fees in checking accounts
- New powers of attorney given to someone else.
- Address changes
- Changes in financial accounts (i.e., investments) that favor someone new
- Any other account changes that are new, questionable and uncertain
Many elders may be afraid to discuss money matters, particularly for fear of embarrassment. Asking questions frequently can help uncover anything that’s unsettling or incorrect. This is particularly true of an elder in a nursing home, where they may be fearful of retaliation if they disclose details.
If you’re concerned that someone is planning to or has stolen money from an elderly person, you may need the help of a Charleston, WV elder abuse attorney.
The Senior Safe Act
In 2018, President Trump Signed The Senior Safe Act, allowing financial institutions to better protect senior customers against potential fraud and exploitation. Banks can train employees to be more aware of unusual activity and possible exploitation in customers over the age of 65.
These employees include investment advisers, broker dealers, transfer agents and other eligible employees. The act provides immunity for these employees if they have concerns, but would otherwise breach privacy if they report anything.
Broker And Investment Advisor Misconduct
Many investment advisors, stockbrokers and other providers are honest and care for their client’s financial wellbeing. But there are occasions where a financial advisor will take advantage of a client who may or may not have a full understanding of what they are discussing or signing. It’s not uncommon for financial services providers to contact elderly clients—sometimes in nursing homes—to discuss their financial status without a close relative around. Close examination of investment account statements is one way to keep current with changes in investments intended for trusts and other estate planning tools.
Whether you or your loved one has worked with someone for years or have only recently signed up with them as clients, you can always check their work record with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA.) Their free online tool is called BrokerCheck, and you can check the background of financial advisors, brokers and firms quickly and easily.
FINRA also has a helpline for seniors and their families that you can call for help, ask questions, and get more information on investment accounts.
Legal Aid Of West Virginia’s website has a page dedicated to financial exploitation of elders and the AARP also offers advice on protecting yourself and your loved ones.
If Your Loved One Has Been Targeted For Financial Abuse
Immediately, contact West Virginia’s Adult Protective Services to report the abuse, as well as the Long-Term & Elder Care (Ombudsman) Director
You should also contact the West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, as well as your county prosecutor.
Adult Protective Services should also be notified of the crime.
Additionally, an elder abuse attorney can help you find out who’s responsible, and what other options you and your loved one have.
Don’t Wait—Call A Charleston, WV Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It’s not an easy thing to know that someone has taken advantage of your loved one’s finances. From small bits of change to credit cards, loans and co-signed bank accounts, you may not find out about the problem until it’s too late.
You have a two-year timeframe to file a lawsuit on behalf of your loved one. If you believe your loved one has been financially harmed by a family member, a nursing home employee, or another individual, you need help fast. Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 to schedule your free consultation with a Charleston, WV nursing home attorney. (You can also email us or use our convenient contact form.) We advocate for Charleston’s vulnerable elderly.