Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse is all too common nowadays, with one out of nine seniors reporting that they have suffered financial exploitation in the past year. However, financial elder abuse generally goes unreported, so it is difficult to gauge just how many seniors are being exploited. The lawyers at Slappey & Sadd, LLC are familiar with the many forms that financial elder abuse can take and the most common perpetrators of financial elder abuse. In addition, we know how to help victims recover compensation and will never collect legal feels unless we bring your case to a successful resolution.
To schedule a free consultation with one an attorney, call Slappey & Sadd today at 404-255-6677 or contact us online.What is Financial Elder Abuse?
Financial elder abuse is the financial exploitation of an elderly person for personal gain by another in a trusting relationship. The perpetrator does not necessarily have to take money from the senior. Even exercising undue influence in the way the senior uses the money can be enough to be considered financial elder abuse.Types of Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse can take many shapes and forms, but here are some of the more common varieties:
- Outright Theft of Money or Tangible Property. If a person in a trusting relationship with the senior takes money or tangible property from the senior without the senior’s permission, this is both financial elder abuse and the criminal act of theft. If you suspect a caregiver of stealing personal property, it is extremely important to document items of value and the dates they went missing;
- Unauthorized Access to Financial Accounts. Those in a trusting relationship may use credit cards, home equity lines of credit, joint bank accounts, or other financial accounts of the senior for their own benefit;
- Using a Power of Attorney to Access Finances for One’s Own Benefit. Often children or caregivers such as nursing home workers are made power of attorney for property for the senior. Being a power of attorney comes with fiduciary obligations, including a prohibition on self-dealing. Self-dealing means the act of using the fiduciary position for one’s own gain. If the person named power of attorney is using the position in any way that appears to benefit the person but not the senior, then this may very well be financial elder abuse;
- Financial Scams. Many unscrupulous companies will target the elderly to sell them unneeded products such as annuities, insurance products, and unnecessary home repairs, to name a few. Along the same lines, companies may charge the elderly for services they did not receive. For instance, nursing homes or home healthcare workers may charge seniors for services not performed or medications never administered;
- Coercion. Healthcare workers or family members may coerce the senior into transferring money or other property to the person. Coercion can be explicit, but it can also be more nuanced, such as indirect threats, withholding needed care or treatment, or performing other acts that would drive the senior to make the transfer;
- “Borrowing” But Never Repaying. Healthcare workers or family members may repeatedly borrow money from the senior without ever repaying the senior. If a person borrows money from the senior without any intention of repaying the senior, then this is financial elder abuse.
This is not an exhaustive list, as financial elder abuse can take many shapes. But it demonstrates that friends and family of a senior who believe the senior is being exploited should be vigilant and monitor those people in a trusted position with the senior to make sure no financial elder abuse is occurring.Common Perpetrators
The three largest groups of financial elder abuse perpetrators are the following:
- Family Members. Family members are often implicitly trusted by the senior and the relationship is often never questioned by others such as financial institutions, medical providers, or lawyers. But this is misplaced as family members are the most likely perpetrators of elder abuse. Family members may misappropriate money believing they are entitled to it. They may also reorganize the senior’s assets to ensure that certain assets are passed to them upon the senior’s death. This abuse can often go on for long periods of time until other family members notice the abuse and retain an attorney to bring a lawsuit against the perpetrator;
- Caregivers. Caregivers, such as home healthcare providers, nursing home workers, or long-term healthcare facility workers, spend large amounts of time with the senior and the senior may grow very fond of the caregiver. Sometimes the senior may even want to give plentiful gifts to the caregiver. But it is not appropriate for the caregiver to accept the gifts nor encourage the senior to give him or her gifts. In many circumstances the caregiver may coerce the senior into gifting, or the caregiver may even steal from the senior without the senior’s knowledge. The trusting position the caregiver is in provides the caregiver with the opportunity to exploit the senior. If there is any sign that a caregiver is taking advantage of a senior it should be reported to an attorney immediately;
- Businesses. As previously mentioned, many businesses engage in unethical scams that lure in seniors to take advantage of them. The scams can be quite creative, or they can be obviously outright theft. It is important to review a senior’s credit card billing statement or bank account to see if there are any charges for unneeded services or services not provided.
The State of Georgia makes it a crime to financially exploit a senior. Specifically, the Georgia Code § 16-5-102 prohibits financial exploitation and makes it a felony. Certain professionals are also required to report elder abuse under the Georgia Code § 30-5-4, and if they fail to do so will be found guilty of a misdemeanor.Contact the Georgia Elder Abuse Law Firm of Slappey & Sadd Today
If you believe you or a loved one has been financially exploited by a nursing home worker, by a family member, or by a business, then it is important that you get legal representation to prevent the abuse from continuing. The lawyers at Slappey & Sadd, LLC understand the warning signs of elder financial abuse and will take the necessary legal steps to stop it in its tracks and bring the perpetrator to justice. If your senior loved one is being financially abused, call the lawyers at Slappey & Sadd, LLC today at 404-255-6677. Your loved one’s money should be used for his or her benefit only and no one else’s.