Elder financial abuse is an unfortunate reality of trust and estate disputes in California. Hackard Law's litigation team has found that in seemingly straightforward estate contests, we often uncover serious and even disturbing details of elder abuse and elder financial abuse: the exploitation of a senior for monetary gain.
The methods of exploitation in cases of financial elder abuse are varied, ranging from isolation and emotional manipulation to intimidation and outright physical attack. There are also more subtle indicators of wrongdoing - questions of timing, altered documents, and transferred funds. In a recent initiative to combat this pernicious and growing phenomenon, the Department of Justice has helpfully compiled a list of red flags of possible elder financial abuse. Let's run through the warning signs:
- Money is withdrawn from the elder's accounts, and the withdrawals are inconsistent with the elder's spending habits.
- Withdrawals from accounts are inconsistent with the elder's income.
- A will, title or property asset is suddenly bequeathed to a new or unexpected beneficiary.
- The elder can no longer find or has "misplaced" valuable personal property.
- Unusual credit card activity is detected or a new account is registered.
- The elder lacks necessities or amenities they can normally afford.
- Prescriptions go unfilled, or medical problems go untreated.
- Level of caregiving is insufficient with the elder's income.
- Documents go missing.
- There are suspicious signatures on documents.
- Financial records are altered.
- An acquaintance takes up residence with the elder.
- Mail is redirected.
- Prepaid services are no longer delivered.
- Services are overcharged.
- Elder's home is subject to incessant calls (bill collection, etc.).
These are just some of the signs of elder financial abuse we regularly encounter in trust and probate litigation - every one of our cases is unique, but they are often accompanied by similar danger signals. If someone in your family has been exploited through financial elder abuse, don't stay silent - report it to the authorities today, and know that you can also pursue justice against wrongdoers in civil court.
Hackard Law protects victims of elder financial abuse and their families in probate and trust litigation cases in California Superior Courts. We work on a regular basis in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Diego. Contact us today at 916-313-3030 so that we can listen to your story and see how best to help you.