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Common Signs of Elder Financial Abuse | Estate & Trust Lawsuits

Elder Financial Abuse Common Signs.jpgWhen most people think about elder abuse, they tend to picture a scenario in which an older adult suffers physically or emotionally abuse by family members or caregivers. While it is certainly true that this type of abuse takes place on a regular basis, elder abuse can also take the form of financial abuse. Financial elder abuse can in a wide variety of ways and people known or unknown to the victim can perpetrate it. What all cases of financial elder abuse share, however, is the financial exploitation of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The financial exploitation of older adults is a pervasive problem in the United States. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) says that one in nine seniors reported suffering abuse in the past year and that one in 20 reported financial mistreatment in the recent past.

At Hackard Law, we are committed to representing the rights of every elderly person we can. We work hard to ensure that victims and their beneficiaries and heirs obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. To schedule a free case evaluation with a financial elder abuse lawyer in Los Angeles, please send us an email or call (213) 357-5200 for our Los Angeles location or (916) 313-3030 to reach our Santa Clara office.

Loved Ones of Elders Are Often the First Line of Defense

As a loved one of an older adult, understand that many instances of financial elder abuse go unreported. In many cases, this is because victims are too embarrassed to seek help or simply are unaware that exploitation has taken place at all. For this reason, loved ones of seniors must remain vigilant for signs of financial abuse. Remember, it often becomes increasingly difficult to recover misappropriated assets as more time passes, so look into any suspected financial abuse as soon as possible. Issues that could potentially signal financial abuse include:

  • A lack of knowledge regarding personal finances - Older adults who were previously involved in and knowledgeable about their finances who suddenly are unaware of what is going on may have given over financial control to another person. While older adults allowing other people to handle their finances is not per se evidence of financial abuse, always examine this type of situation when you encounter it.
  • Unpaid bills - Unpaid bills are another common sign of financial abuse, especially when the elder has the means to pay them. Past due bills, disconnected utilities, or eviction or foreclosure notices are signs that something is amiss.
  • Changes to estate documents - In some cases, people who are perpetrating financial elder abuse use undue influence to pressure victims to make changes to wills or trusts that benefit them. In others, they may actually make unauthorized changes to these documents themselves and claim that the victim made them. Meet any significant changes to estate documents with skepticism, particularly when an elderly person makes them without explanation or when they significantly benefit an unexpected party.
  • Missing assets - When an elder's assets go missing, it may indicate that someone is exploiting them. Examples of assets that are often misappropriated by people who engage in financial elder abuse include missing cash, financial documents, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, or other items of value.
  • A new close relationship - The unfortunate reality is that many perpetrators of financial elder abuse use a person's isolation or loneliness as an opportunity to develop a relationship and obtain a position of trust. As a result, loved ones of older adults should keep an eye on any new close relationships that they form to prevent abuse from taking place.

Remember that financial abusers are often known to the victim and can include family members, accountants, attorneys, neighbors, caretakers, and friends. Do not discount warning signs simply because they may involve someone in a position of trust or who has an established relationship with the elder. Hackard Law can help you investigate any suspicion of abuse.

If You Suspect that Abuse Has or Is Taking Place, Take Action Immediately

Financial elder abuse is a serious matter, so immediately act on any evidence that it is taking place. If you suspect theft, call your local law enforcement agency and report the matter. Next, victims should be certain to call an attorney with experience representing elder abuse victims. Effective legal counsel and representation in this extremely complicated area of law require a thorough understanding of the various common law and statutory remedies available to victims and their families.

Importantly, under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, people who have an interest in an estate as an heir or beneficiary may assert a claim against a financial abuser. As a result, heirs who may have suffered harm through financial elder abuse should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Keep in mind that any criminal investigation launched by the police is separate from the civil case you may have, so calling authorities is usually only the first step.

Call Hackard Law Today With Speak to a Los Angeles Elder Abuse Attorney

Financial elder abuse is a serious problem in the United States, affecting untold numbers of vulnerable adults each year. If you believe that someone has victimized you or a loved one in a way that constitutes financial abuse, discuss your options with an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of Hackard Law have the experience required to recognize elder abuse when it occurs and are committed to helping victims obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, please call our Los Angeles office today at (213) 357-5200 or our Santa Clara office at (916) 313-3030, or send us an email through our online contact form.

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