According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, 1 in 20 older adults has indicated that they’ve been affected by financial mistreatment in the recent past, only 1 in 44 cases of financial elder abuse is ever even reported, and 90% of these financial abusers are family members or trusted others.
Common Ways Seniors are Exploited by People They Trust
- A trusted person who has a joint bank account with a senior steals money from the account.
- The person named in a Power of Attorney by the elder steals money from the senior by using the power provided by that document.
- ATM cards or stolen checks are used to take money out of the senior’s bank account.
- A caregiver avoids getting the medical services or care an elder needs in order to keep that person’s money available to be used by the caregiver for their own personal reasons.
- Care providers in the home could overcharge for services or charge for services that were never provided.
Signs to Look For
Here are some signs that could indicate that someone is experiencing financial elder abuse:
- Loss of trust in other people
- The expression of shame, anger, self-doubt, or worthlessness
- Elder might seem withdrawn, scared, or hesitant to talk about their finances
- Caregiver might be trying to isolate the senior by keeping friends and family from visiting
- Atypical activity in the older person’s financial accounts
- Bills remaining unpaid and limited essentials for the elder like clothing and personal care items
How Estate Planning Can Help
The right estate planning can help protect you from financial abuse as you age. Here are some tips:
- Plan ahead so you have certain documents in place in case you ever need them. Make sure you have a durable power of attorney that puts someone who’s trustworthy and very good managing finances in charge. Consider giving the power of attorney duty to more than just one person, so they can keep tabs on each other.
- Have your financial statements sent on an ongoing basis to more than one person you trust.
- Find an estate planning attorney who will have your best interest at heart to make sure your estate plan will meet your needs and protect you as much as possible.
At The Heritage Law Center, our goal is to work with each client and use our expertise to create an estate plan that protects them, their assets, and their family—now and in the future. Call us at 617.299.6976 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free, initial consultation.