Financial exploitation can happen to anyone of us, but the elderly are especially vulnerable to such mayhem. How do we prevent elder financial abuse in our communities and promote an ethic of responsibility? We must focus not only on individuals, but also on community institutions - and banks are key players in any effort to protect our seniors from wrongdoing.
Elder financial abuse is a crime that robs Americans of billions every year. According to a survey conducted by the Elder Protection Trust in 2010, around one out of five senior citizens has been or will be a victim of fraud. And still other figures don't leave room for much optimism - the National Adult Protective Services Association states that only about one in fourty-four elders will end up reporting when they've financial exploitation. With such daunting odds in the fight against elder financial abuse, where is the best point to prevent it - or stop it in its tracks - early on?
Family members of elder victims of undue influence - a phenomenon often connected with elder abuse - recoil in disbelief when learning of an elder's coerced gift or bequest property transfers. Such disbelief gives way to hurt and outrage as the estate thief makes brazen, insincere and false claims to the estate. Estate litigators must systematically gather supporting evidence to overcome the actions of estate thieves. The development of these cases often rest in claims of undue influence.