The AARP estimates that 10% of all elderly persons will become the victim of abuse of some kind, the most prevalent form of which is financial abuse. Seniors who live alone and continue to manage their own money are especially at risk for abuse. If you have elderly parents or relatives, read on to learn about the signs that your loved one is or may become the victim of financial abuse. Speak with an elder law attorney as soon as possible about steps you can take to end financial abuse and help your loved ones protect their assets.
Signs of possible financial abuse
Your loved one can’t remember important financial decisions: While everyone becomes increasingly forgetful as they age, take note if your loved one can’t keep track of important financial matters. If you notice unusual activity in a financial account, and your loved one cannot explain it, this could be a sign that someone else has access to their account. If you find a check or other document from a bank that bears your loved one’s signature, but they can’t remember signing it, this could be evidence of fraud, or of the fact that your loved one is no longer mentally able to manage their own money.
Bills appear to be going unpaid or unopened: If you believe that your loved one has the financial ability to keep up with their bills, but you nevertheless notice that they’re receiving mail indicating that bills have not been paid, or mail that isn’t being opened, this could be a sign that they need help.
Your loved one’s home is receiving unnecessary or poorly-performed repairs: Unscrupulous contractors will often go door to door and try to convince older adults that their home is in dire need of repairs or maintenance. These contractors will try to scare the elderly into believing that, without these repairs, their home could be at risk. Before your loved one signs a contract for repairs, try to arrange a meeting that would allow you to hear for yourself what work will be done and why it’s necessary.
A caretaker or new friend seems suspicious: The elderly are often abused by those closest to them, such as live-in caretakers or relatives who have access to their home and the records stored there. If it seems as though a new friend has become very close quickly, or if a caretaker suddenly appears to have greater disposable income, these could be signs of abuse.
For assistance with elder law issues in New York, such as creating an estate plan, guardianship, or trust, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate Poughkeepsie elder law attorneys at Van DeWater & Van DeWater for a consultation, at 845-452-5900.