Many people have a low-lying fear or suspicion of others. After all, the sinister characters in movies, TV shows, and books are generally strangers to their victims. However, the majority of violent crimes are committed by the victim’s family member. The same is true for elder financial abuse. According to Forbes, 90 percent of elder financial fraud is by one of the victim’s family members. This is a staggering percentage. While there are certainly justified worries that seniors have about being the victims of telemarketing scams or credit card fraud, chances are that if they are the target of financial abuse, it will be by a family member.
Two High-Profiles Cases of Elder Financial Abuse
A number of famous elderly people have been the victims of elder financial abuse in high-profile stories recently. As reported by AARP, the 95-year-old creator of Spider Man, Stan Lee, is being targeted by a memorabilia collector who is attempting to isolate Lee from his fortune of $50 million. A temporary restraining order has been placed on that memorabilia collector. In another similarly sad situation, the second person to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, has alleged that his two youngest children and former manager are trying to take control of his estate by claiming that he has dementia. He filed a lawsuit against his children, who still claim that his dementia is worsening. These and other stories should serve a reminder to us all of the dangers of elder financial abuse and the potential for familial turmoil surrounding the finances and well-being of an older person who may (or may not) be struggling with memory loss and dementia.
Preventing Financial Abuse
Preventing financial abuse should be a priority for older people and their loved ones. AARP suggests using the following methods to safeguard against fraud, theft, and poor communication that can lead to a ruined relationship between the senior and their children:
- Create a plan for designating power of attorney before it is too late. This should be done when the older person is still mentally sharp;
- Family members should keep in regular communication with their older loved ones, including phone calls, emails, and home visits;
- Create a relationship with the senior’s caregiver, which reduces the risk that the caregiver will take advantage knowing that there are people paying attention to what they are doing;
- Monitor bank account and brokerage activity by becoming an trusted contact;
- Never sign documents that you do not fully understand without the aid of an attorney;
- Use direct deposits for checks so they do not have to be cashed; and
- Use a service to track financial activity that notifies you when there are unusual withdrawals and spending.
Call Maryland Elder Law Attorney Tara K. Frame
Protecting your loved one from financial abuse can be a challenge. So too can the prospect of keeping peace between yourself, your aging parent, and other family members when it comes to an elder’s financial affairs. Dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s can pose great hurdles to family members. The elder law attorneys at the Pasadena law offices of Frame & Frame can help. Call us today at 410-255-0373.