Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse statistics are staggering. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, eleven percent of the nation’s six million yearly cases of elder abuse occur here in California. That’s 660,000 new cases of financial elder abuse every year, in California alone. This represents the highest rate in the nation. In another study conducted by Adult Protective Services in Los Angeles County, twenty-six percent of their clients say they were taken advantage of financially.
Financial elder abuse actually occurs in many ways, from misuse to extracting “gifts” to outright theft of money or property from an elderly relative or acquaintance. Checks are frequently forged or pressured; money can be misappropriated from a bank account, pension, trust or from Social Security; or valuable property, like homes, rentals, investments, cars, can be simply occupied, used or taken over. Elder financial abuse often occurs privately – and tragically, often at the hand of those who know the victim best.
Victims of elder abuse are especially subject to undue influence from relatives or caregivers, because so often they are dependent on these other people for their care and daily needs. Their vulnerability is the basis and reason for the California statue that codifies the tort of financial elder abuse.
For elderly people who have fallen victim to financial elder abuse, courts provide a variety of remedies. The victim of elder financial abuse can recover the money or property which has been taken from them by the person who has wrongly misappropriated it. Victims also can recover attorney’s fees and even punitive damages or double damages under some circumstances.
There are many tip-offs that someone you know may be suffering from financial elder abuse.
Evidence that may indicate financial elder abuse includes:
- Inappropriate or suspicious banking activity
- Signatures on checks that do not resemble the elder’s signature
- Legal documents signed without disinterested witnesses
- Checks written out to “cash” being negotiated by the person having a caretaker responsibility
- Checks signed by the senior, but filled out by someone else
- A surge of activity in accounts which have had minimal activity
- Expensive or extraordinary gifts
- Checks or credit card transactions made out to direct mail or telemarketing promotions
- Contributions going to religious or non-profit causes that haven’t been previous
beneficiaries of generosity
- Sudden or new investments in time shares, real property, annuities or financial products
- Large loans against equity in real property to finance investments or gifts
- Power of attorney, a will, deed or trust being signed by the elder when he or she
apparently lacks mental capacity
- The elder adding the name of a caretaker or relative onto real property or money accounts
- Missing cash, jewelry and personal belongings
- Recent acquaintances or long-lost relatives suddenly appearing or becoming involved
- A caretaker taking an inappropriate level of interest in the elder’s financial matters
- Any contracts signed by the elder without independent counsel
The Boesch Law Group has successfully prosecuted claims and has strongly defended against financial elder abuse claims involving many millions of dollars, and the Boesch Law Group has worked closely with claimants, families and personal representatives, to provide the best cost-effective representation when less amounts are involved.
Financial elder abuse claims may be brought against a suspect by the elder, or if the elder is incapable of bringing the action, it may be brought by a conservator, trustee, attorney-in-fact, or a person legally appointed as a guardian ad litem. If the abused elder has died, then the elder abuse action may be brought by the personal representative appointed by will or the court, a trustee, or, if the representative or trustee are the suspected abusers, the action may be brought by any “interested party,” which includes an heir, child, spouse, creditor or beneficiary. If you suspect that you or a loved one is the victim of elder financial abuse, please give us a call to discuss how we can help.
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