Have you noticed that your elderly dad has a new “best friend” who doesn’t seem to be looking out for your dad’s best interests or claiming a right to his money? Did he mention that he recently changed his will, trust, insurance or other financial documents and doesn’t show you how it was changed?
You are not alone. Some studies show 1 in 5 Americans over 65 has been victimized by some types of financial frauds. Despite significant financial losses and resulting suffering, financial exploitation of elders continues to go unreported and unrecognized.
Today, we’ll be discussing a serious issue that affects many families, financial exploitation of older adults. If you suspect that a younger woman is stealing your dad’s money, it’s important to take immediate action to protect his assets and legal rights. Here are some steps you can take:
Step 1: Identify the situation
The first step is to confirm that financial exploitation is occurring. Signs of financial exploitation can include unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, changes to wills or trusts, unpaid bills or services, missing cash or valuables, and confusion about recent financial arrangements or changes. If you notice any of these signs, you should look into it further.
Step 2: Gather evidence
Once you suspect that financial exploitation is occurring, you should gather evidence to support your claim. This can include bank statements, receipts, invoices, contracts, or other relevant documents. You may also want to interview your father and other people who have access to his finances, such as caregivers or financial advisors, to gain more information about the situation. Another possible option of gathering evidence is to install security cameras in your father’s home if the person in question has access to his living space.
Step 3: Consult an Attorney
If you suspect financial exploitation is taking place, you should consult an attorney who specializes in elder law. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through the process of safeguarding your father’s assets.
Some potential legal options that an attorney may recommend in a financial exploitation case include:
- Seeking a temporary restraining order or an injunction to prevent the alleged perpetrator from accessing your father’s assets or continuing to engage in financial exploitation.
- Filing a civil lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator to recover any stolen assets or to seek damages for the financial harm that has been caused.
- Contacting law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator, which can result in fines, imprisonment, and other penalties.
An attorney can also help you understand your father’s legal rights and options in this situation. For example, your father may have the right to revoke any power of attorney that he has granted to the alleged perpetrator or to request a guardian or conservator to manage his finances if he is unable to do so himself.
Step 4: Report the Exploitation
You can report elder abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation to a number of government agencies. Adult Protective Services (APS) and the state unit on Aging are two examples. The name of the government unit varies by state and may be referred to as a Department, Office, Bureau, Commission, Council, or Board for the elderly, seniors, aging, or older adults. You can also make contact with local law enforcement.
When you report the exploitation, you will need to provide as much information as possible, including your father’s name, age, and contact information, the name and contact information of the alleged perpetrator, and a description of the suspected abuse or exploitation. You may also be asked to provide any evidence that you have gathered, such as bank statements or receipts.
The agency that you report the exploitation to will investigate the situation and take appropriate action to protect your father’s assets and legal rights. This may include coordinating with law enforcement, social service agencies, and legal professionals to ensure that the victim’s assets are secure and that the perpetrator is held accountable.
Reporting financial exploitation to the appropriate authorities is an essential step in protecting your father’s assets and legal rights.
Step 5: Take protective measures
You may need to take protective measures as soon as possible to avoid further financial exploitation.
- Change account passwords: If you suspect that someone else has access to your father’s accounts, change the passwords to prevent her from continuing to engage in financial abuse.
- Close accounts: Consider closing any accounts that have been affected by the exploitation or opening new accounts with different financial institutions.
- Limit access to assets: You can move assets to a new account or have a trusted family member manage the assets on your father’s behalf.
- Review legal documents: Examine any legal documents signed by your father, such as a power of attorney, to ensure that they are current and that the person authorized to act on his behalf is someone you trust. If you suspect that another person obtained a power of attorney or other legal document through fraud or coercion, speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options.
Having proper legal documents in place is an essential step in protecting your father’s assets and legal rights. For example, a power of attorney can empower a trusted family member or friend to manage your father’s finances and make decisions on his behalf if he is unable to do so. This can be especially important in situations where your father is no longer capable of managing his own finances due to age or illness.