Elder abuse has become a significant issue in the United States and can take many different forms. Though most people may first think of physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment when they think of elder abuse, financial exploitation is also a serious form of abuse that can cause significant damage to older adults and their families. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA),1 financial abuse is reported at a higher rate than other forms of abuse and is, therefore, a serious problem.
Signs of financial exploitation
Though financial abuse cases can take many forms, you should watch for the following signs that your loved one is being financially exploited:
- Another person has gotten very close to your loved one and isolated them from other family and friends.
- Your loved one has changed power of attorney, wills, trusts, or other estate planning documents to favor another person without explanation.
- Another person is suddenly a joint bank account holder with your loved one or is added to deeds or titles for property.
- There are unexplained withdrawals from your loved one’s accounts or charges on credit accounts.
- Checks are missing from your loved one’s checkbook.
Note that financial abuse can be committed by a stranger or by another trusted family member or caretaker.
What should you do?
You should always report financial abuse to the authorities and discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. If your loved one is still alive, they may recover their lost funds by filing a claim in civil court and a lawyer can help you through that process.
If you discover the financial abuse after your loved one dies, you may raise issues of financial abuse as a challenge to the case in probate court.2 You should always have the assistance of an attorney who understands the complicated nature of probate disputes.
St. Louis attorney Kenneth P. Carp handles many types of personal injury, probate, and other legal matters. He can evaluate your situation regarding financial exploitation of your older loved one and can advise you on the best options in your individuals case. Call today at 636-947-3600 for help.