Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse occurs when the perpetrator steals, misappropriates, or otherwise wrongly obtains the money or property of an elderly person, thereby causing financial harm to them. While the definition of financial elder abuse is simple, identifying it is often not. The perpetrators go to great lengths to avoid detection, and in many cases, financial elder abuse occurs slowly over a long period of time. Elders and their loved ones should thus be aware of some common red flags that can indicate that financial elder abuse is occurring. If you have noticed any of the below signs of abuse, please contact a California financial elder abuse attorney.
Common Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
There are too many warning signs of financial elder abuse to list them all here; however, some of the most obvious and concerning signs are outlined below.
One of the most tell-tale signs that an elderly person is experiencing financial hardship is if their bills and other expenses go unpaid. Unpaid bills do not always mean that financial elder abuse is occurring, but they may indicate financial elder abuse if the elderly person in question does not have a history of missing bill payments. Missed bill payments and other deviations from an elder’s routine may indicate something more serious than absentmindedness.
Changes to Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney
The most attractive targets for the perpetrators of elder abuse are large sums of money, such as those that could be passed via a will or trust. Abusers also often greatly desire to control their victims’ finances, such as through a power of attorney. Sudden changes in an elder’s estate planning documents, particularly in favor of unexpected beneficiaries, can indicate undue influence or other forms of financial elder abuse.
Missing Cash, Checks, and Personal Property
While large sums are the ideal targets for abusers, smaller payouts can also be attractive. Abusers frequently steal money, cash, checks, credit cards, and personal property from their victims. It can be an indication that financial elder abuse is occurring when such items go missing and their owners do not know where they went.
Credit Score Decreases
Decreases in an elderly person’s credit score can be one of the consequences of missed payments. They could also indicate that someone is opening lines of credit in the victim’s name. A sudden decrease in credit score — particularly where the victim’s credit score has not fluctuated much historically — is one of the strongest signs of financial elder abuse.
A Sudden New Companion
Financial elder abusers often accomplish their ends by using honey rather than vinegar, which can result in a close relationship between perpetrator and victim. While sudden new companions are not necessarily cause for alarm, they should be monitored. A new friend who gives “financial advice” or offers to “help out” or run errands for an elder may indicate that he or she is in it for more than friendship. Left unchecked, such new friends or companions may pressure the senior into estate plan changes benefitting themselves or talk the senior into giving them a Power of Attorney.
Get to the Bottom of Suspected Elder Abuse With Help From a San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Attorney
If you have a sneaking suspicion that someone you care about may be the victim of financial elder abuse, you should act quickly to minimize the potential damage. To get started, please contact a San Francisco financial elder abuse lawyer at the Evans Law Firm, Inc., by using our online contact form or calling 415-441-8669 or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).