Elder Financial Abuse – How to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones
Whether you are a senior yourself, or you have an elderly loved one, the issue of elder abuse and neglect is something you cannot afford to ignore. Financial abuse of the elderly is something you need to understand to prevent becoming a victim. While elder abuse is not a new problem in the U.S., it is a rapidly growing problem. Financial exploitation of the elderly is the most common type of elder abuse. With that in mind, the Coral Gables elder law attorney at Stivers Law discuss how to protect against elder financial abuse.
Why Are Seniors Targeted?
Sadly, instances of abuse and neglect of the elderly in the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue to increase in the years to come. Financial abuse is, by far, the most common type of abuse. Experts believe that there are at least 5 million instances of financial abuse or exploitation of the elderly each year in the U.S.
Although the causes of other types of elder abuse are somewhat complex, it is not as difficult to explain why older individuals are so often targets of financial abuse. The truth is that they frequently make lucrative, and easy, targets. For example:
- People over 50 control over 70 percent of the nation’s wealth.
- Older individuals tend to be more trusting
- Seniors often do not know the value of their assets, particularly when the asset is real property that has appreciated considerably.
- Many elderly victims suffer from dementia and/or other physical or mental disabilities that make them easier targets.
- Older individuals are much less likely to be technologically savvy, making them easier to scam.
- Seniors tend to be predictable, making them easier to victimize.
Elder Financial Abuse Prevention
The good news is that there are several steps you can take to help prevent becoming the victim of financial abuse yourself and/or to help an elderly loved one avoid victimization by the unscrupulous predators who prey on them. For example:
- Educate yourself and discuss financial abuse. Preventing any type of abuse starts with acknowledging that it happens and educating yourself to the warning signs. If you are a senior, talk to your peers about the issue. If you are the loved one of an elderly person, sit down and have a frank and open discussion about the issue.
- Protect personal information. Victims of elder financial abuse often lose entire retirement nest eggs in the blink of an eye because they failed to protect their personal information. Frequently, the problem stems from not understanding current technology and how far a scam artist can go with just a few scraps of personal information. Never give out your personal information, including date of birth, Social Security number, credit card numbers etc., to anyone over the phone or computer.
- Avoid isolation. Those who prey on elderly victims frequently look for one who is already isolated or who they can easily move into a position of isolation. A victim who is isolated often grows dependent on the perpetrator, thereby increasing the assets that can be stolen and decreasing the odds that the victim will report the abuse.
- Plan for the possibility of incapacity. There is a very good chance that you will end up incapacitated at some point during your retirement years. That incapacity could make you an even easier target of financial exploitation. To avoid this, plan by including incapacity planning in your overall estate plan. You can decide now who will take over your finances and exert control over your assets should you be unable to control them yourself at some point down the road. Planning severely limits the possibility of a perpetrator getting ahold of those assets because of your incapacity.
Contact a Coral Gables Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about preventing elder financial exploitation, contact an experienced Coral Gables elder law attorney at Stivers Law by calling (305) 456-3255 to schedule an appointment.