The pandemic has not only caused many of us to struggle, but it has also put our older population at risk financially. Social isolation and mental impairment are the two main factors that make older adults more vulnerable to financial abuse. According to the National Council On Aging, up to five million older Americans are abused every year, and the annual loss caused by financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. You should take action if you see signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property. Below are signs of elder abuse and questions you should ask if you suspect financial elder abuse:
Signs of Financial Elder Abuse:
- Unpaid bills.
- Caregiver “living off “the older adult.
- Mismatched signature on financial documents.
- Unusual or sudden changes in spending patterns, estate plan, or other financial documents.
- Large purchases not for the older adult.
If you suspect Financial Elder Abuse, ask the following questions:
- What is the older person’s understanding of their financial situation?
- Do they have a durable power of attorney? If so, can you see it? Who is named as power of attorney for the older adult?
- Is the person with power of attorney for the older adult abusing their authority?
- Is the older adult’s money being used for their care?
- Who pays the bills?
If you know or suspect that a loved one might be a victim of financial abuse, please contact the authorities. You can review state-specific elder abuse laws financial the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) website. For additional resources on elder abuse, please visit the following websites.
- Administration for Community Living (ACL): Protecting Rights and Preventing Abuse
- National Center on Law & Elder Rights
- CFPB Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans
- Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative
- U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
- Elder Financial Protection Network
- National Adult Protective Services Association
If you have questions or would like more information, Galarnyk & Associates, Ltd. is experienced in handling cases involving financial elder abuse. Please call us. We can help.
John D. Galarnyk, Esq.
Andrew J. Cunniff, Esq.
John A. Romanucci, Esq