Financial Elder Abuse By Caregivers
Developing And Exploiting Personal Or Romantic Involvement
Red Flags Of Financial Elder Abuse
Older Americans and their families lose more than $3 billion annually as a result of financial elder abuse according to the FBI and National Institute of Justice. While theft from any person is a crime, when the victim is over 65 any theft is also criminal financial elder abuse and grounds for civil liability against the person who took the property. Anyone assisting in financial elder abuse, even if another person is the one who physically takes the elder’s property, 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 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).
Types Of Financial Abuse Committed By Caregivers
- Financial theft, forgery and embezzlement
These are probably the most common forms of caregiver financial abuse. The caregiver typically has access to and opportunity to review financial documents and records, and to undertake financial transactions, such as banking and the payment of bills. The financial abuse may start by simply taking a few dollars in cash here and there and progress to forging signatures on cheques or manipulating the elderly person into signing cheques or agreements that benefit the fraudulent caregiver at the expense of the patient.
- Property theft
It is not uncommon for family members to start noticing that certain personal effects go missing from the elderly person’s residence. This may start off with things such as coin collections and range up to the theft of valuable goods or even the misappropriation of real property. We have seen cases where the caregiver attempts to take the victim’s family home by deed while the victim is still alive or through amended trust instrument or new Wills leaving the property to the caregiver.
Ten Red Flags Of Financial Elder Abuse
- Any attempt to isolate or prevent the patient from speaking to family or third parties;
- Becoming too friendly and/or romantically involved with the elderly patient;
- Asking for legal authority such as banking privileges or a power of attorney;
- Accessing personal documents such as a will, financial accounts, investment accounts and the like;
- Withholding medical information from the family;
- Withholding financial information from the family;
- Overstepping normal expected boundaries of a caregiver;
- Suggesting opening new financial accounts or the transfer of existing ones
- Receiving “gifts;” and
- Asking to be joint holder on a bank account or Power of Attorney
Protecting Loved Ones From Financial Elder Abuse And Theft
If your older loved one has in-home assistance of any kind make sure their credit and debit cards, jewelry, cash and other valuables are in a safe place away from reach. Keep financial information, bank account numbers and Social Security numbers away from a caregiver’s or other stranger’s glance. Never, ever grant a power of attorney to a caregiver. Visit your older loved one as regularly as you can to see firsthand how they are doing. Most important of all, if you suspect anything wrong, do something about it right away.
Ingrid M. Evans represents elder and dependent adults in San Mateo County 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:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>.