Protecting Seniors Against Financial Abuse
For those who have worked hard over their lifetime to accumulate property and assets, protecting those resources is a primary concern. In terms of estate planning, your savings are meant to enable you to live the type of life you want in retirement, making sure you are provided in the event of illness or infirmity, in addition to leaving something behind for your family members or friends. Unfortunately, making a wrong choice or trusting the wrong person can rob you not only of your finances, but also your sense of security. Whether you are looking to protect yourself, or have older family members you are concerned about, being aware of the risks and the types of financial abuse that occur can help to ensure your loved ones are protected.
Types of Financial Abuse Common Among Seniors
Elder abuse in general is unfortunately common, and in addition to the physical and psychological injuries and damages those who are abused go through, many suffer serious financial ramifications as well. According to National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), financial abuse of seniors can take a variety of forms, including the following:
- Physically taking money and property;
- Forging a person’s signature on bank drafts, checks, and financial agreements;
- Defrauding by accepting money or assets in return for services which are never provided;
- Scams including mail and internet crimes aimed at deceiving seniors through investments which do not exist;
- Pressuring a senior to provide for someone in their will or other estate planning documents.
Those who perpetrate the above types of crimes may be complete strangers, or they may be those in a position of trust, such as caregivers, financial advisors, and even family members or friends.
Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Consumer Reports states that many of those who are victims of financial abuse are ashamed or afraid to admit the abuse, and only one out of every 44 cases is actually reported. Family and friends of senior individuals should attempt to talk openly with these relatives about their finances, and to take an active role in monitoring both their accounts, as well as the people in their lives who may have access to sensitive information. Warning signs of elder financial abuse to be aware of include the following:
- Unpaid bills and shut off notices for services that had previously been set up for automatic payments;
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, or transfers between different accounts;
- New people being listed as authorized signers on accounts;
- Bank statements or cancelled checks which are no longer sent to the person’s home;
- Changes in spending patterns, and buying items the person does not use or would not have use for;
- Unauthorized signatures on checks and other documents;
- Changes in estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney
Let Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Help You
If you have questions regarding the planning and management of your own or a loved one’s estate, contact Cavallo & Cavallo today. Our experienced New York estate planning attorneys can help answer your questions and address your concerns, while acting as a strong legal advocate to ensure your rights and interests are protected.