Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Elder Financial Abuse: The Problem, The Signs, & Recommendations

DementiaMedia Reports analyzed from 2010 reveal that elder financial abuse cost the elderly at least $2.9 billion annually. A report from the Government Accountability Office asserts "The money that older adults lose in these cases is rarely recovered, and this loss can undermine both the health of older adults and their ability to support and care for themselves." As a result, taxpayers pay the difference for housing and medical care once the exploited elder has no more assets.

Now, the senior population is increasing making the problem worse. Unless adult protective services gets better the nation will face an increase in public funds being drained. The bad news is that most of these pre-grave- robbing" crimes go unreported.

Thus, it is critical for people to be aware of signs of elder financial abuse. Family and friends should look out for the following signs:

  • Large bank account withdrawals
  • Missing items at home
  • Forging of the elder's signature
  • Subscriptions to unnecessary services or goods
  • Bizarre financial activity

Estate planning attorney Ryan Zenk suggests that families put a series of checks and balances that can deter theft. Below are his recommendations.

  • Have multiple people under the power of attorney for oversight
  • Get a guardian appointed
  • Avoid joint ownership of bank accounts
  • Create a trust to keep assets protected

See Carole Moore, How to Prevent Financial Abuse of Elderly Parents, Fox Business,  Mar. 20, 2013.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


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