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Recognizing and Preventing Financial Elder Abuse

Financial abuse has become the most common form of elder abuse.  While it can occur at any time, financial abuse will often start after the death of a spouse or during a health crisis.  Individuals who are lonely, alone or in poor health are the most vulnerable.

It can be difficult to identify or recognize financial abuse because it is often a pattern rather than a one-time event and the perpetrators are usually individuals that the victim knows and trusts. To best protect yourself, remember that your property and money rightfully belong to you, not your family or anyone else.

Evelyn’s Story:

Ryan often pressures his grandmother, Evelyn, for small amounts of money, assuring her that he will repay her.  However, when Evelyn asks him when he will pay her back, he gets upset and accuses her of not trusting him.  Evelyn cares very much about her grandson but is worried about his behavior.  In speaking with her trusted neighbor, Evelyn realizes that Ryan is abusing her and the abuse could get worse if it doesn’t stop.   She decides to call the police to find out how to stop the abuse without putting herself in danger.

As in Evelyn’s story, abusers are often people who have a close connection to the victim.  Abusers can include a spouse, child, other relative, friend, caregiver or neighbor.  They will use their connection to the victim to take advantage of or manipulate the situation.

Here is how you can protect yourself from being victimized by financial abusers:

  • Keep your financial and personal information in a safe place.
  • Speak with your trusted estate planning attorney to ensure you have a power of attorney in place which appoints someone you can trust to look after you if you are unable to do so yourself and ensures that your finances will be protected from others who might try to take advantage of you.
  • If you think you are experiencing financial abuse, ask for help.
  • Keep a record of any money you give away and note whether it is a loan or a gift.
  • Consult with your attorney for major decisions involving your home, property and before signing any legal documents.
  • Ask someone you trust to look over contracts and other papers before you sign them.
  • Make an effort to keep in touch with a variety of friends and family so you don’t become isolated.

 

If you suspect that you or your loved ones are at risk of falling prey to financial abuse, we can help.  We are proactive lawyers who help you plan for your future, to preserve both your health and your wealth.

To discuss your specific needs and to find out how we at Fingeret Law can help you, please call us at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.