ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER: What Is Financial Elder Abuse?
Financial elder abuse, along with physical elder abuse and psychological elder abuse, is one of the three major forms of elder abuse that poses a threat to the safety and wellbeing of older adults. Generally, it occurs when one person takes advantage of the victim in a way that causes financial harm to the victim. Some types of financial elder abuse, such as simple theft, can be fairly easy to identify. Others, however, are more insidious and occur over the course of months or even years, such as those based in fraud, coercion, or trickery. Because seniors are already a financially vulnerable population, with many living on fixed incomes or in poverty, financial elder abuse can have devastating effects on its victims. The only way to recover your losses is likely to be via the help of a Santa Clara County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney.
Definitions of Financial Elder Abuse in California Law
California is at the forefront of the national effort to protect senior citizens from all forms of abuse, including financial abuse. As such, the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act includes an official definition of financial elder abuse. According to the act, financial elder abuse occurs when the perpetrator engages in any of the following behaviors:
- Taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property for a wrongful use or with an intent to defraud (or both)
- Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property for a wrongful use or with an intent to defraud (or both)
- Taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, or assists therein, real or personal property by undue influence (i.e., excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will, resulting in inequity)
“Real or personal property” includes personal effects and real estate in addition to property acquired by means of an agreement, donative transfer, or testamentary bequest.
Common Forms of Financial Elder Abuse
As mentioned above, California law takes a very broad view of behaviors that constitute financial elder abuse. However, some of the most common forms of financial elder abuse include:
- Theft of property
- Identity theft
- Probate fraud (including undue influence)
- Securities fraud
- Insurance and Medicare fraud
- Multilevel marketing schemes
A Santa Clara County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney Can Help You Spot Abuse
It is impossible to completely shield seniors from financial elder abuse, since we cannot monitor their financial activity at every moment. But a few telltale signs that financial elder abuse may be occurring include:
- Unusual bank account activity
- Large ATM withdrawals
- New or increased lines of credit
- Changing from basic accounts to accounts that offer more complex services
- A new “best friend” or “financial advisor”
- Suspicious signatures on checks
- Checks written as “loans” or “gifts”
- Bounced checks or unpaid bills
- Attempts to wire large sums of money
If you notice any of the above occurrences — especially if your loved one seems confused by them or can’t tell you how they happened — it may be a sign that they are a victim of financial elder abuse. For more information about uncovering patterns of financial elder abuse, please contact a Santa Clara County financial elder abuse attorney.
California leads the nation in protections for seniors against financial elder abuse. The State’s laws afford broad civil remedies to seniors– beyond restitution (getting your money back) – including extra damages and mandatory attorneys’ fees. The Santa Clara County and California financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm represent senior victims in civil actions against all types of financial abusers: insurance agents selling unsuitable products, stock brokers churning accounts, reverse mortgage brokers pushing high-cost borrowing, agents who misuse a senior’s Power of Attorney, and embezzling family members and caregivers, among others. Our Santa Clara County and California financial elder abuse lawyers pursue all remedies available to seniors under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. If you or someone you know is the victim of financial elder abuse in Santa Clara County or elsewhere in California, call Evans Law Firm today at 415-441-8669. <br>
Why Civil Cases Matter
Many victims of financial elder abuse are reluctant to come forward because the abuser may be a needed caregiver or close family member or because the senior does not understand their rights, or is perhaps embarrassed by what has happened. You should never hesitate to come forward when you or your loved one has been financially exploited or abused. In fact, you should seek help immediately when you suspect abuse as there are strict time limitations on bringing suit. California law allows for punitive and treble damages in certain cases and mandatory attorneys’ fees and costs for the senior which alleviate the financial burden of bringing a case. We at Evans Law Firm have experience representing seniors in Santa Clara County and know the procedural rules and remedies in financial elder abuse cases. We work on financial elder abuse cases every day. Call us at (415)441-8669 when you first suspect a problem.
If you’re a senior or the loved one of a senior be cautious in all financial matters. Anyone can be a potential financial predator; the vast majority of financial elder abuse victims know their abuser well. Whenever you first suspect financial elder abuse, seek professional help and the advice of people you trust. Do not relinquish authority over finances by a Power of Attorney unless it’s to someone you completely trust; misuse of Powers of Attorney is a leading type of financial elder abuse. Be sure your checkbook, ATM card, and credit cards are kept in a secure place. Lastly, if you’re a senior, don’t isolate; let loved ones and longtime friends and professionals help you just as you helped them in your younger years. It’s important.
Contact Us to Speak with a Santa Clara County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney
If you or a loved one been the victim of financial elder abuse in Santa Clara County, or in any California county, contact California elder abuse attorney Ingrid Evans and the other Evans Law Firm financial elder abuse attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with all types of financial elder abuse, investment and securities fraud and annuity fraud. We can help guide your case through a jury trial, through a FINRA arbitration, or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.