Different Forms Of Financial Elder Abuse
Warning Signs of Financial Exploitation
Protecting Older Loved Ones And Recourse Against Abusers
Financial elder abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen from an older adult. It can include forging checks, taking someone else’s retirement or Social Security benefits, or using a person’s credit cards and bank accounts without their permission. It also includes changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, or title to a house without permission, or using undue influence to get a senior to change his or her estate plan, or obtaining a Power of Attorney from a senior and then misusing it for the agent’s advantage. All these forms of financial exploitation constitute financial elder abuse, which is a crime and grounds for civil liability against the person who took the property and anyone assisting them. Penal Code § 368; Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(a)(1) and (2). Financial elder abuse is broadly defined under California law:
(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 in San Mateo County 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).
Forms of Financial Elder Abuse
In addition to outright theft of an older person’s money or belongings, financial abuse also includes:
Financial neglect occurs when an older adult’s financial responsibilities such as paying rent or mortgage, medical expenses or insurance, utility bills, or property taxes, are ignored, and the person’s bills are not paid.
Financial exploitation is the misuse, mismanagement, or exploitation of property, belongings, or assets. This includes using an older adult’s assets without consent, under false pretense, or through intimidation and/or manipulation.
Health care fraud can be committed by doctors, hospital staff, or other health care workers. It includes overcharging, billing twice for the same service, falsifying Medicaid or Medicare claims, or charging for care that wasn’t provided. Older adults and caregivers should keep an eye out for this type of fraud.
Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse
Possible signs of elder financial abuse include:
- Checks or bank statements that go to the perpetrator
- New bank accounts at banks the senior never used before
- Forgeries on legal documents or checks
- Large bank withdrawals or transfers between accounts
- Missing belongings or property
- Mood changes (such as depression or anxiety)
- New changes to an elder’s will or power of attorney
- The elder signed strange documents they didn’t understand
- The elderly person does not understand their financial situation
- Unpaid bills and eviction notices
- Utilities being discontinued if bills weren’t paid
- Unexplained withdrawals that the elderly person could not have made
Staying involved in an older loved one’s life is the best way to protect them from financial elder abuse. Monitor all their accounts and talk to them one on one as frequently as you can to see if they have any money – or other – concerns about a caregiver or other person who has become involved in their life. Never, ever, allow an older loved one to give a caregiver or other stranger a power of attorney. If you suspect financial elder abuse of a loved one, friend or neighbor in San Mateo County or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). Ingrid pursues all available remedies for families and injured seniors against those responsible, including an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for the victim or his or her family. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.