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Tips to Avoid Elder Financial Abuse

Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 1:50PM

Tips to Avoid Elder Financial Abuse

You want what’s best for your aging relatives, and that includes ensuring their finances are secure. Unfortunately, there are several groups with ill-intentions bent on trying to scam the elderly.

Many seniors are swayed by tales of desperation and hardship. Kind-hearted active adults want to help those down on their luck. While this is an admirable quality, being able to separate valid philanthropic opportunities from outright scams is a skill.

Here how you can help your aging loved ones avoid elder financial abuse:

Know the Terms and Tactics

Also known as elder financial exploitation, elder financial abuse is when an individual or group uses an elderly person’s funds, property, or resources in an illegal or improper manner. This ranges from sweepstakes scams and the like, to fake home repair offers, telephone scams, and even identity theft.

Statistically, most elder financial abuse occurs with those people between the ages of 80 and 89. Most of the victims are experiencing cognitive incapacity or decline, including dementia. In addition, most victims live alone and have limited social interaction.

Warning signs that your loved one may be the victim of elder financial abuse include:

  • unpaid bills that the individual should have the means to pay
  • out-of-character spending
  • sudden changes to wills, trusts, and financial documents
  • abrupt/unexplained transfer of assets 
  • new “friends” who show little or no common interests or connection to the victim
  • confusion about recent charges or financial arrangements

All scams include three main elements: a hook, manipulation, and a deadline. Scammers use a hook to generate interest and divert attention from the details. Then, they use any type of manipulation tactic to build trust and convince the victim to let their guard down. Finally, a strict deadline is given, aimed at forcing the victim to make a quick decision.

Stay Vigilant and Create a Plan

It’s important that seniors discuss their plans early on, and clearly communicate their wishes. Scheduling a discussion with a Daytona Beach estate planning attorney is a good first step.

As with anyone, active adults should always be cautious when providing financial and/or personal information over the phone or online. It’s essential to know with whom you’re speaking or communicating. No reputable institution will aggressively coerce or harangue an individual into making a rapid and rash financial decision. Always ask for more information in writing and speak with an attorney before making any changes to wills, trusts, or other important documents.

A qualified attorney can also help seniors establish a revocable trust. This allows a trusted loved one to access and manage accounts in the event of emergency or incapacitation.

If you suspect elder financial abuse, you should immediately report it to the authorities. Scammers rely on secrecy and shame to perpetuate their crimes.

Speak with a Qualified Expert

Offering nearly four decades of experience and service, our office specializes in estate planning, real estate, and guardianship. We’ve helped people across Volusia County better understand their legal options and opportunities. Contact us today begin a conversation on how we can assist in your specific needs.





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