Signs of Financial Abuse of the Elderly
In the past, the term "elder abuse" was typically reserved for the actual physical abuse of older people by their family members or caretakers. Stories circulated about health professionals who did not provide the care patients needed. But social attitudes and the law have both caught up, and we now recognize there are many more ways an elderly person can suffer abuse. The state of Kansas, in particular, has passed laws which make it a crime to abuse the elderly financially, such as by taking advantage of a power of attorney to redirect funds.
It may not always be obvious that your loved one is being financially abused. After all, how often do you get a chance to look at your grandmother's checking account or to go over your elderly mother's receipts? It's best to educate yourself on the signs, to know when a friend, another loved one, or even a caretaker might be taking advantage of your elderly loved one financially or is trying to control their finances. Here are a few signs which could indicate abuse:
- An out-of-touch relative or friend becomes suddenly interested in the person's finances or affairs
- Someone in charge of the person's care is hesitant to spend money on that person's medical needs, including doctor visits, medications, or medical equipment
- House bills and utilities are going unpaid
- A caregiver isolates the elderly loved one
- Your loved one does not receive account statements - they are sent to another relative or caregiver
- Signatures on your loved one's checks seem suspicious
- Suspicious expenses appear after a person is added to your loved one's accounts
- Your loved one is accompanied by the person to the bank, is not allowed to speak about financial transactions, or appears nervous in front of the suspected abuser
- The suspected abuser gives strange explanations about financial activity, and your loved one seems oblivious about the activity
These are just some of the signs of elder financial abuse. An abuser could be stealing money from your loved one, impersonating their identity by signing checks or documents, or could be physically intimidating them into handing over money or access to accounts. Your loved one may not tell you because they be unaware the impropriety is taking place or because they may be scared of the repercussions.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being financially abused, it's important that you reach out to an attorney first to obtain sound legal advice and course of action. The abuser could take dire action, such as cleaning out accounts, or could try to destroy evidence if you confront them about your suspicions. It is better to work with an attorney who can legally obtain the evidence needed and can help you protect your loved one.
If you have questions or concerns about financial abuse of an elderly person, contact the attorneys at Stockton & Kandt for compassionate legal guidance. Call us at (913) 856-2828 or use our secure, online form to schedule a consultation today.