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What to Do I Do If I Suspect Financial Abuse of an Elderly Person?

What Is Financial Abuse of an Elderly Person?

Financial abuse of an elder is the illegal or improper use of a senior’s money, property, or assets.  Some examples are cashing an elderly person’s checks without them knowing or authorizing it.  Signatures can also be forged or the elderly person may be deceived into signing certain documents.  Some abusers go so far as to outright steal from an elderly person.


How Can I Recognize Financial Abuse of an Elderly Person?


Financial abuse can come in many forms, however, here are a few common types that you should be aware of:

Bank Account Management

This type of abuse can be indicated by sudden changes in how the elderly person manages their bank account, such as the withdrawal of large sums of money.  There may also be additional names on their bank account.  An abuser may also make withdrawals with permission from their bank account with the elderly person’s ATM card.

Alterations Made to a Will

Family members, especially, may try to coerce a senior into making radical changes in their Will or other financial documents.  These relatives often seek to increase their inheritance when the elderly person dies.  People close to the elderly person may also steal possessions from them without their knowledge, often when the elderly person is incapacitated or ill. 


If an elder is receiving insufficient care despite being financially capable to fund their own care, then elder abuse could be the reason.  It is imperative that an elder get the the appropriate level of medical care and aid.  Many relatives who are also caregivers try to provide just the bare minimum aid for their senior because they want more of that money to be put toward their inheritance.  Relatives may also suddenly claim rights to a dying relative’s possessions.  


How Do I Stop Elder Abuse?

Financial elder abuse is very common; the exploitation of a senior’s funds and property is often easy to overlook.  There are many ways to prevent and stop this type of abuse from happening.  You should first have a long discussion with the person you feel is being victimized by financial abuse.  Make sure you know their best interests and desires for their financial security.  Try to be friendly: loneliness often contributes to an increased risk of financial abuse.  


If you suspect financial abuse of an elderly person, you can contact the appropriate authorities in your state, local law enforcement, or the senior’s financial institution.  It is best to get help for financial abuse as soon as possible.  An attorney’s advice can also be extremely helpful in this situation.