Isolation And Control Can Lead To Financial Abuse
Caregivers, Strangers, Domestic Partners, Second Spouses Can All Be Predators
Identifying Signs of Financial Abuse
Elder abuse is often associated with behavior that displays outward signs – bruises from physical violence or insults and threats from verbal assaults, for example, or bedsores or infections from neglect. However, mistreatment and exploitation can target more than your mind and your body. Financial elder abuse can also ruin a senior’s life and leave him or her destitute. If someone is wreaking havoc on your money, you may be feeling the devastating impacts of financial abuse. If you yourself or an older loved is suffering this kind of financial abuse here in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, call us today. The financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent injured seniors and their families in Los Angeles and throughout California. Our elder abuse litigators can be reach at (415)441-8669.
What is financial abuse?
California law defines financial elder abuse broadly as the taking of any senior’s money or other property for a wrongful use or assisting with that taking. See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30. Wrongful taking of an older person’s money ranges from outright theft of cash to stolen identity to more subtle takings like selling a senior insurance they do not need or convincing them to grant a Power of Attorney or change their Will to benefit the predator. While many cases of financial fraud and online identity theft involve a criminal you’ve never met, the perpetrator of financial abuse more often involves someone close to you like a caregiver, domestic partner or new girlfriend or boyfriend. Whoever the predator, financial elder abuse cases share common themes. “The hallmark of financial abuse is control and isolation,” says Cliff A. Robb, PhD, faculty director of consumer finance and financial planning at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology. “By removing social support, victims have nowhere to turn. If your voice is being minimized or someone is establishing a pattern that isolates you and your ability to acquire and manage your money, you may be a victim.”
Watching for Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
Isolation, control, dependency and money problems can all be indications that a senior may be subject to financial abuse. If you have a senior loved one living alone or with a caregiver or new life partner, you will know best what may trouble you. But here are a few telltale signs you may want to watch out for:
- New bank accounts the senior and family member can’t access
- Changes in where Social Security and retirement checks are deposited
- Unpaid care or utility bills
- Sudden increase in ATM withdrawals or unfamiliar purchases or spending habits.
- New friends or “advisors” whom you have never heard of in your loved one’s life before.
- Credit cards maxed out, used without permission, unpaid or otherwise harming an older person’s credit score
- Coercing a senior to make gifts or advance loans
- Changes in trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney or other important legal documents
- Refusing to provide money for necessary or shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, medical care or medicine
If your older loved one has in-home assistance, always vet the individual (and their agency) before they ever come inside. If the caregiver is coming to you through an agency, check out the agency’s track record too. Agencies may do very little to vet their own aides, and that can be a real problem. Once a caregiver is in the home, keep valuables locked up and do not have cash, credit cards or confidential information near at hand. Call your loved on frequently and speak to them alone; tell them to take your call privately and out of earshot of the caregiver. The senior may be intimidated to speak candidly in front of someone they fear. Never ever let a senior give a caregiver a Power of Attorney.
Ingrid M. Evans and our other elder abuse attorneys represent seniors in Los Angeles and throughout California who are victims of any kind of elder abuse, including financial elder abuse. Ingrid and our other elder abuse attorneys can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ingrid and her team of financial elder abuse attorneys will pursue all remedies available to you or your injured senior loved one including getting stolen money back (restitution), undoing any trusts or contracts the abuser may have fraudulently created (rescissions), damages for pain and suffering, and an award of the attorneys’ fees and expenses you’ve incurred in bringing your case.