Elder Law Attorneys in Brighton & West Branch
Fighting Back Against Elder Financial Exploitation & Abuse
Financial exploitation is when someone takes or misappropriates the assets of a vulnerable adult for their benefit. The elderly or disabled adult is deprived of their own essential financial resources, typically without their knowledge or consent. These vital assets are taken through deception, coercion, and sometimes outright threats.
It's unfortunate that there are people out there who see the vulnerability of a disabled or elderly person as an opportunity, but financial exploitation occurs too often in our society. Even worse, it's common for the shyster to be a close family member or caretaker of the victim.
When dishonest people take advantage of older Americans, our elder financial abuse law firm wants to know about it. We have seen far too many cases of family members, caregivers and businesses stealing from vulnerable people.
Holding People Accountable for Their Wrongdoing
At the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, Special Needs & Disability Planning, PLLC, our Brighton elder lawyers don't understand why someone would take money from a vulnerable person, but we do understand how to punish financial abuse and restore financial resources. When our financial abuse lawyers hear of a case, we immediately investigate the circumstances, determine who is accountable and take steps to recover stolen property.
If you are aware of elder financial abuse, talk to an elder law attorney at the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, Special Needs & Disability Planning. Our lawyers have the ability and determination to put a stop to elder financial abuse. Call us at (810) 893-5277.
Recognizing the Signs of Financial Exploitation
Typically, family and loved ones find out about the misconduct too late to take action: The damage is done and the elderly or disabled person has lost money, real estate, personal property, and - perhaps most importantly - dignity. Still, there are ways to spot the signs of financial exploitation, so your disabled or elderly loved one doesn't become a victim.
Unexpected Changes to Bank Accounts or Habits
Some of the more obvious signs of issues are withdrawals of cash or checks written out to questionable individuals, but even banking habits can reveal financial exploitation. If the elderly or disabled person doesn't normally use an ATM, this should raise a red flag. Also, check to see if there have been any changes in the beneficiary designation or joint owners on accounts, which would hand over the proceeds to a perpetrator upon the death of your loved one.
Disappearance of Personal Property
If the elderly or disabled person in question has personal property of considerable value, note the disappearance of any items. A scammer may steal electronics, jewelry, tools, artwork, collections, and other belongings without the victim noticing.
Altering Estate Plan Provisions
A financial exploiter may convince or threaten a vulnerable person into changing various estate planning documents. The will is a common target for perpetrators who seek to inherit assets upon the testator's death, but there are many other documents involved with an estate plan. Offenders often change the power of attorney over financial matters and appoint themselves as agents with control over real and personal property.
Shortcomings Despite Plentiful Funds
If the elderly or disabled person suddenly doesn't have the funds to cover basic needs - when they never had difficulties before - this can be a sign of financial exploitation. For instance, if you discover phone service or utilities have been cut off for non-payment, that could indicate someone else is collecting that money. Another clue would be if bill collectors are contacting your loved one or a bank is threatening foreclosure.
If you believe a disabled or elderly person has been the victim of these types of misconduct, you should consult with a lawyer. The attorneys at the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, Special Needs & Disability Planning can assist you on what to do in the aftermath, as well as provide information on how to ensure financial exploitation doesn't occur in the first place as part of our long-term care services.
Examples of financial abuse and exploitation issues we handle include:
- A relative who convinces an elderly person that he or she needs access to their property
- A grandchild who convinces a grandparent to sign deeds over to the thief
- Cases of stolen Social Security and pension checks, stolen dividend checks, and transferred stock certificates
- An insurance company that sells a confused elderly person an annuity that does not mature for decades
- A salesperson or business that sells overpriced or even unnecessary repairs
If you have questions about how we can serve you and your family or if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss our services, please contact the Nawrocki Center.