This morning KIRO FM featured a story regarding the increasing frequency of financial exploitation of elderly people. Sadly, financial exploitation is just one facet of the ever growing concern about elder abuse in general.
The news report highlights a story that we at Cayce & Grove have seen more than once. An elderly person, perhaps lonely or in need of support, finds themselves befriended by a much younger person — typically not a family member. Over time the abuser will gain the trust of the elderly person, and perhaps obtain access to financial information or even access to accounts for bill paying. Eventually, the abuser may control the elderly persons social life, transportation, funds or worse begin draining their assets for personal gain. Or, may even encourage the elderly person to making changes in their Estate Planning that will benefit the abuser either by changing the Will or naming the abuser in their Power of Attorney.
Something to keep in mind is that Elder Abuse, whether financial or physical, is not always drastic or apparent. It is prudent for adult children to know who is in their parents’ lives, who they are spending time with and to what degree those persons may have access to financial information. Vigilance is the best defense.
According to Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services, financial exploitation is one of the most reported types of abuse directed at vulnerable adults.
Tips for Prevention of Financial Abuse:
- – Keep a watchful eye out for family, friends, and neighbors who may be vulnerable.
- – Understand that abuse can happen to anyone and know what to look for.
- – Speak up if you have concerns. Trust your instincts!
- – Find ways to limit the person’s isolation if that is an issue.
- – Report any suspicions you have of abuse.
- – Spread the word. Share what you’ve learned.
Signs of Financial Exploitation include:
- – Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice
- – Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money
- – Adding additional names on bank signature cards
- – Unauthorized withdrawal of funds using an ATM card
- – Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
- – Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- – Bills unpaid despite the money being available to pay them
- – Forging a signature on financial transactions or for the titles of possessions
- – Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives
- – Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- – Providing services that are not necessary
- – Individual’s report of exploitation
In Washington, learn more about how to report Elder Abuse here. To read the news report or listen to the segment, we’ve provided the KIRO FM link here: KIRO’s Story on Financial Exploitation of the Elderly