Elder Financial Exploitation: Prevention & Reporting Abuse

Earlier this week we shared information on the new guide from ElderCare Locator. The brochure (available here) provides helpful tips for all New York families to ensure theft from seniors is stopped. As noted, the problem is widespread, affecting as many as one in ten elderly community members. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tackle the problem. But it is also worthwhile to be reminded of the basics.

Education is the key to stopping senior financial exploitation in its tracks. If all elderly community members are trained in the most common scams and keep a close eye on all financial details, then the chance of theft going unnoticed is drastically reduced. Beyond that, the best way to prevent abuse is by use of third-party support. For example, the AARP provides a wealth of information on various “money managers” who help seniors with day-to-day financial transactions. They may be particularly helpful for those who have just lost a partner. Often one partner in a relationship will handle more of the financial details, if that partner passes away, then the other is often placed in a difficult financial situation without the experience to keep things in order. To learn more about money managers take a look at the AARP website on the subject: www.aarpmmp.org

In addition, the ElderCare guide also explains how proper estate planning is a critical way to help prevent abuse. Potential abusers are far less likely to engage in unscrupulous financial wrangling if they know that legal professionals are involved in the affairs. Transferring title to property or gaining control of a senior’s finances is much tougher if those details were already handled via an elder law estate planning professional.

Reporting Abuse
Sometimes abuse occurs even with the best laid plans. If it does happen, do not forget that local law enforcement authorities should be the first call. It may be difficult to turn in friends or family members suspected of mistreatment, but do not forget that these actions are criminal. If those who steal in this way are not held accountable, they very well may harm another down the road. Accountability is critical to tackling the problem.

For help with these issues in New York consider reaching out the lawyers at our firm. We work with seniors and their families to ensure long-term financial details are secure. That includes the basic inheritance plans as well as other legal documents related to alternate decision-makers so that the unscrupulous do not obtain control of one’s medical or financial affairs and exploit them for their own gain.

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