All Seniors At Risk Of Financial Elder Abuse
Protecting Seniors From Dishonest In-Home Caregivers
Have A Plan And Stay Involved In Older Loved Ones’ Lives
Older Americans and their families lose more than $3 billion annually as a result of financial elder abuse according to the National Institute On Aging, and data shows that financial elder abuse may lead to early death, physical and psychological harm, destroy social and family ties, cause devastating financial loss, and more. All seniors are at risk of financial elder abuse, especially those who are isolated or are suffering from cognitive impairment. Financial elder abuse is a crime in California and grounds for civil liability against the person who took the property. Anyone assisting in financial elder abuse also commits financial elder abuse and is responsible for the property taken. Penal Code § 368; Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(a)(1) and (2). California law broadly defines what constitutes financial elder abuse:
(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:
(1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(3) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by undue influence, as defined in Section 15610.70.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse by a caregiver or other person in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, call us today at (415)441-8669. We will pursue all persons responsible for a senior’s injury. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Warning Signs Of Financial Elder Abuse
Here are some important signs of financial elder abuse:
- Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the older adult
- The inclusion of additional names on an older adult’s bank signature card
- Unauthorized withdrawal of the older adult’s funds using their ATM card
- Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Provision of substandard care or bills left unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
- Discovery of a forged signature for financial transactions or for the titles of the older adult’s possessions
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an older adult’s property or possessions
- Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- The provision of services that are not necessary
- An older adult’s report of financial exploitation
Preventing Financial Elder Abuse And Fraud
If you need to hire an in-home caregiver for a loved one, always do a background check on the individual and ask for and check with references. Keep an eye on all financial accounts and never allow a caregiver access to credit cards or a senior’s Social Security number, bank account numbers, PINs, or other important financial records. Never, ever grant a Power of Attorney to a caregiver. Also follow these steps with other family members:
- Hold family financial meetings on a regular basis.
- Have someone in the family create a “personal balance sheet” to keep track of income and expenses.
- Monitor all of a senior’s accounts online daily.
- Establish power of attorney on key accounts.
- Watch for signs of aging, dementia, and a loss of executive processing skills.
- Set up a system to pay all bills electronically and automatically.
- Cancel unused or extra credit cards. Keep credit and debit cards in safe place away from caregivers.
- Monitor credit reports.
- Accompany seniors on every business meeting or trip to the bank.
Ingrid M. Evans represents elder and dependent adults in San Francisco or elsewhere in California who are victims of any kind of financial exploitation or other abuse. Ingrid can be reached at (415) 441-8669 or TOLL FREE 1-888-80EVANS (888-503-8267), or email us at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.