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How Do You Know If You’re a Victim?

Financial elder abuse and fraud costs older Americans $36.5 billion annually, but many cases of abuse go unreported.  Some seniors, such as dementia sufferers, are often unaware they have been victimized and would be unable to speak out due to their health condition. Others may be embarrassed to speak up or may not recognize that they were actually victimized.

It is important to understand what constitutes financial elder abuse and to know how to recognize the signs, either to protect your own assets as you age or to ensure that the assets of a senior family member are not being improperly misappropriated. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have been the victim of abuse, contact the Contra Costa County financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. for help as soon as possible. An attorney can help you determine if the actions that were taken constitute fraud and assist you with pursuing all available legal remedies to recover the lost funds.

Recognizing the Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse takes many forms. One of the most common types of financial abuse perpetrated against seniors is when caregivers either steal money or manipulate a senior into giving away valuable property or assets. A caregiver may have power of attorney over a senior’s assets and instead of fulfilling his fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the senior, will instead use those assets for self-enrichment. A caregiver without power of attorney could also access a senior’s bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial and personal information.

Various sections of the California probate court establish the rules for liability when a vulnerable senior is financially abused by a caregiver. California Probate Code Section 859 addresses liability of caregivers who wrongfully take or conceal property belonging to elders or dependent adults, and California Probate Code Section 86 establishes rules for holding caregivers accountable for undue influence. An attorney can help seniors who were victimized by caregivers to understand which laws apply to their situation.

The caregiver who commits this type of abuse and who can be held legally accountable could be a family member, a home health aide, a nursing home staff member, or anyone else who spends considerable time with a senior and manipulates or steals from that senior. Signs of abuse in these types of situations are usually obvious with an examination of accounts or property. Unexplained missing money or assets; large withdrawals from a senior’s bank account; or a senior changing his will due to undue influence are all possible signs of this type of elder financial abuse.

There are also other types of abusive and wrongful behavior that may occur, which are harder to detect. In some of these circumstances, it will not always be clear that a senior was a victim. For example, financial advisors could give bad advice to seniors without regards to the senior’s risk profile or stated financial goals. A financial advisor who pushes a senior into risky investments to earn high commissions is harming that senior financially just as much as a caregiver who steals money from the senior’s bank account. Even a large annuity firm or insurer who provides misleading information to seniors about investment products could turn a senior into a victim of financial fraud.

To understand whether you were a victim of this type of abusive behavior, it is important to know what a financial advisor or investment company’s obligations are. A knowledgeable financial elder abuse attorney can review the circumstances surrounding a senior’s loss of funds to determine if there were improprieties or if there was wrongdoing that could lead to legal action.

Evans Law Firm, Inc. has a long track record of taking action against all those who commit financial fraud or abuse who victimize seniors, and our legal team will fight for you to recover losses. Give us a call today at 415-441-8669 or contact us via email to find out how we can help you. 

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