People over 65 are known to hold most of the individual wealth in the US. This makes them a target for individuals interested in working to take their money.
But for the elderly in a nursing home, they can face additional exploitation without adequate defenses. Done correctly, this kind of abuse can go undetected for longer periods, leaving the victim financially devastated. Elders with cognitive problems may not realize that they are victims of financial abuse and exploitation. Relatives may not realize what’s going on until the victim’s accounts and affairs are radically changed.
Financial elder abuse is one of the most common crimes committed against senior citizens in the US. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable, even without cognitive problems. They may not be able to defend themselves, become fearful of speaking up or find themselves threatened by the person taking advantage of them. Whether the abuser is a relative of someone involved in their care, elders are frequently at risk of being abused and exploited for illegal financial gain.
Examples Of Financial Elder Abuse
It may be as simple as some missing property or talking someone into signing over their will, bank accounts, or other assets to someone who isn’t entitled to it.
Financial elder abuse is the improper and/or illegal use of an elder’s money, assets, or property by another individual. The abuser may be a distant relative who suddenly shows up and pays the elder considerable attention in an attempt to win their trust. It may also be someone who is involved in their care and does the same thing.
Once convinced, the elder may sign papers that they don’t understand, such as new wills, bank signature cards, loan and mortgage applications, credit card applications, and other financial documents. From there,
As a relative, it’s important to keep abreast of your loved one’s financial affairs, including:
• Checks and bank withdrawals that the elder can’t explain
• Loans that the elder can’t explain
• Forged signatures on checks or other financial documents
• Anything that disappears from the elder’s possession without explanation—cash, assets, and other valuables
• Giving control over their finances to someone new and for no reason
• Abruptly changing their will, and adding or subtracting beneficiaries
• Updated powers of attorney, or abusing existing ones.
Additionally, if discussing their financial situation with them brings up fear and anxiety, there is a good chance they have done something and are afraid to tell you.
Nursing home residents meet with many people on a daily basis. Doctors, nurses, caretakers, X-Ray techs, and other medical personnel are the residents’ most frequent social contacts, in addition to family and friends. Because elders tend to be friendly, one of those individuals may become their “new best friend.”
Family members are not above financial abuse of elderly relatives, either, according to the AARP. But because nursing home residents tend to be more isolated and don’t see close family on a daily basis, they may become close to the people they come in contact with regularly.
Family members may tell a story of need, such as losing their job and facing eviction. Or they may employ threats of violence against a relative, threatening to have them “thrown out of the nursing home and into the street” if they don’t cooperate.
Nursing home employees may threaten to harm a resident, withhold care from or neglect the victim until they do what the employee demands.
As their advocate, it’s important to regularly examine their finances for fraud potential. Whether it’s looking at their statements or running yearly credit checks to ensure that no one is forging their name to get illicit loans, be aware of what’s happening with their finances. This is especially vital if he or she has cognitive issues, such as dementia, and wouldn’t be able to know that they were a victim.
Chad Love—Charleston’s Leading Elder Abuse Attorney
If you suspect your loved one is being financially exploited, you need a compassionate attorney who will fight to protect your loved one. Whether by a dishonest relative or anyone involved in their care, The Love Law Firm can help you get justice for your loved one as well as work towards recovery of lost funds.
To defend and protect your loved ones from this heinous crime, contact attorney Chad Love today at (304) 344 5683 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We offer contingency fee arrangements for your convenience.