Elder financial abuse is a growing epidemic in the state and around the country, annuity fraud lawyers in California report. Unfortunately, many older people have no one to protect their well being, both physically and financially, and are often susceptible to outside parties who want to embezzle money, take over assets, or claim inheritances to which they are not entitled. In an effort to cut down on the number of elderly residents who are taken advantage of every year, legislators in California have introduced strict laws regarding elder abuse, as well as harsh penalties.
In California, elders are defined as people aged 65 and older, and financial abuse against them can constitute crimes of either a criminal or civil nature. According to the state’s penal code, criminal elder financial abuse occurs when any person violates standing state laws regarding embezzlement, fraud, forgery, or theft from an older person. If the money or property taken from an older person is worth $950 or more, this type of abuse is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum of one year in a county jail, or two to four years in a state prison. If the fraudulently obtained goods are less than $950 in value, the penalty drops to a $1,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of one year.
Civil elder financial abuse constitutes the taking, appropriation, or retention of real or personal property belonging to an elder person, taken for inappropriate use, or with intent to defraud. The state Welfare and Institutions Code extends the civil crime to include assistance in attempts to defraud an older person, as well as the exertion of undue influence on an older person to wrongfully obtain goods or money.
Avoiding elder financial abuse involves constant vigilance for older Californians. Keeping a watchful eye on their finances and bank account balances is a good start, and knowing where their money should be allows elderly people to easily tell if someone is moving it without your express permission or knowledge. Dealing only with reputable financial advisors, lawyers, and trusted family members will limit the circle of people who know personal financial details, and help to cut out unsavory elements, such as greedy relatives and unscrupulous investors and advisors.
The annuity fraud lawyers in California also recommend making all agreements in writing, rather than relying on verbal promises or conversations when money and property are up for discussion. Careful perusal of bank documents and financial agreements before signing can keep elderly Californians from falling victim to hidden loopholes or contract negotiations.
Elder financial abuse is an unfortunate crime in today’s society, as people are living longer and the financial world is constantly changing. Ensuring that your money is in good hands, especially if you are unsure about the markets, stocks, or other financial options, is crucial to avoid falling victim to scams and fraudulent persons or companies.
The annuity fraud lawyers at California law firm the Evans Law Firm represent any older people in the state who suspects that they have fallen victim to a fraudulent scheme, and want to take action to regain their financial independence. Call us today at 415-441-8669 for a consultation.