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Elder Financial Abuse

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Signs of elder financial abuse

  • Money or personal items missing without an explanation
  • A depletion of assets without adequate explanation
  • A standard of living below the elder’s financial situation
  • Undue interest by the caretaker in the elder’s financial situation
  • A new “best friend” who suddenly moves in
  • Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities
  • Cash withdrawals or transfers between accounts that the elder could not have made
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents
  • No documentation about financial arrangements
  • Names added to the elder’s financial accounts
  • Bank statements no longer coming to the house, when the elder is not known to handle their finances electronically
  • Suspicious changes in titles, wills, or other important documents
  • Unnecessary goods, services, or subscriptions

What Is Financial Abuse of Elders?

Financial abuse is depriving an elder of money or property, or of control over money or property, by theft, manipulation, undue influence, or fraud.

Why Does Elder Abuse Happen?

After years of hard work and saving, elders may have significant economic resources, partly in savings and retirement accounts and partly in the value of their homes. Often they don’t think of themselves as likely targets of financial abuse, because they don’t consider themselves wealthy enough to attract financial predators.

How Can I Protect Myself, as an Elder, Against Financial Abuse?

Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. Make sure you have made legal arrangements for a trusted person to handle your affairs if a time comes when you are not able. If your financial affairs are not in order, arrange professional help to get them in order.

Don’t let anyone force you to make a financial decision under pressure. A repairman’s quote or a relative’s request for a loan isn’t an emergency. Think about it and get advice before acting.

What Can I Do if I Suspect Financial Elder Abuse?

First, talk to your loved one. Offer to help them with their finances or to help find a qualified financial professional to handle their finances. Be tactful if you suspect the elder has been taken advantage of by a new friend or a loved one. It’s difficult and embarrassing for an elder to admit they have trusted the wrong person.

If you still have concerns, it may be time to consult an attorney. An elder who has full mental capacity has the right to make financial and personal decisions that you may not agree with. But if you feel that an elder has been the victim of theft, undue influence, or fraud, there may be legal recourse. In some situations, it may be necessary to protect the elder by having a guardian or conservator appointed.

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