Financial elder abuse is subtle, often repeated on the same individual and incredibly devastating. The unlawful depletion of financial resources is particularly ruinous for the senior community because many are relying on their finances to pay for nursing home care (assisted or full-time). In addition to financial hardship, depletion of financial resources could impact the receipt of government benefits, such as Medicaid. The elderly community is a target rich environment for the unscrupulous to exploit; scam and prey upon. We all need to be vigilant when it comes to our vulnerable population, because once financial exploitation occurs, rarely does the exploited individual receive proper restitution.
Indications of financial elder abuse:
- Multiple names on bank accounts without sound reasoning
- More frequent cash withdrawals
- Cash payments for undocumented services
- Checks made payable to individuals instead of business entities
- Odd purchases
- Difficult to access information on money/assets
- Regular bills not timely paid despite sufficient resources
- Hasty requests to sign legal documentation
- Passwords given to multiple individuals regarding financial information;
- Personal property given away
- Requests to be guarantor on loans
- Requests to use personal collateral for third party loans
- Undocumented cash payments for care services
- Requests to see estate planning documents
- Requests to change estate planning documents
- Sudden detachment and isolation from friends and/or family
- Elder adult is afraid to speak in front of caregiver/companion/family member
The aforementioned list for financial abuse is not exhaustive. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is often discovered too late. The best way to prevent financial elder abuse is to be vigilant, and to trust your instincts. Seeking professional consultation early may help prevent the devastating effect in the long run. Specifically, attorneys that specialize in elder law and estate planning can be particularly helpful in counseling.
- Region 3B Area Agency on Aging – serving Barry and Calhoun (i.e. Battle Creek, Marshall, Albion) counties.
- The Michigan Model Vulnerable Adult Protocol
- Laws and Programs for Senior Adults
Important Statutes (specifically relating to vulnerable adults):