Providing support for aging, vulnerable adult is not an easy task. Many older adults need help with every aspect of their daily lives, from getting in and out of the shower to cooking their meals. They may need support remembering when to take their medication and getting safely to medical appointments.
Sometimes, the adults in question will have a healthier or younger spouse capable of providing them with support. Other times, their children or grandchildren may step up and serve as caregivers. Some families bring in professionals, who might spend most of the day with an older adult or even take up residence at their property.
Unfortunately, some of those caregivers will use their role for personal financial gain. They will engage in elder financial abuse that will affect someone’s golden years and the legacy they leave behind when they die.
What is elder financial abuse?
Some forms of elder financial abuse are overt. They involve individuals directly stealing from someone. They might take personal property or money from the individual they should support or use their credit card for personal shopping excursions. The caregiver might make demands or threats to gain access to funds, property or accounts.
Manipulation and fraud are also common forms of elder financial abuse, a caregiver might make fabricated or exaggerated claims about their financial circumstances to elicit sympathy and receive property or money from the older adults. Other forms involve preying on the individual’s possible weakened mental condition Caregivers might also convince an older adult to change their estate plan for their benefit.
What can you do about financial abuse?
All too often, families don’t discover financial abuse until after someone dies. At that point, the family may have the option of challenging an estate plan based on the undue influence of the caregiver who pressured the testator to change their existing document. In some scenarios, the family may be able to hold a caregiver responsible for the amount extorted from an older adult or fraudulently used without their knowledge.
For most families, the first step toward addressing undue influence and financial abuse will be a careful review of someone’s financial records. Knowing that probate litigation can help you address financial abuse can lead to justice for that misconduct in the probate courts.