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Financial Elder Abuse: How To Detect And Prevent It

Financial Elder Abuse: How to Detect and Prevent It

Unfortunately, elderly parents and grandparents can be easy targets for financial abuse as people try to take advantage of their elder’s mental state. Especially with estate-related matters, family and friends have been found to unduly influence the elderly, tricking them into distributing their estate against their true intentions. Elder abuse extends well beyond undue influence and can come in many different forms. It’s important for loved ones and family members to look out for the elderly people in their lives, ensuring that they’re not being abused financially or otherwise. With this blog we hope to bring light to some common forms of financial elder abuse to ensure that all elderly people can have their estate handled and distributed exactly as they’re intending.

What Financial Abuse Looks Like

Financial elder abuse is commonly caused by family members, close friends or caregivers who already have a bit of power and influence over the elderly victim. In many cases, the elderly isn’t fully understanding or aware of what the person is doing. Often, the elderly person is too trusting of his/her family and friends, assuming the best intentions when a suspicious scenario arises. Some examples of financial elder abuse are:

  • Unduly influencing an elderly person over estate-related matters;
  • Blatantly lying to an elderly person for personal gain;
  • Abusing power over financial accounts after being given access – such as using the elderly’s bank account to pay for their own expenses;
  • Abusing power as a power of attorney, committee or estate executor;
  • Forging the elderly’s signature to sign documents for them;
  • Theft of property; or
  • Using fraud to trick an elderly person into doing something not in their best interests.

Essentially, financial elder abuse includes anything done by someone to gain financially at the expense of an elderly person by abusing their trust, mental capacity or lack of understanding. Financial abuse can happen to anyone; however, it’s most common in elderly people due to the nature of old age and estate assets.

Detecting Financial Abuse

While there are countless ways someone could attempt to abuse an elderly person financially, there are ways that family and friends can detect when financial abuse may be occurring. It’s not usually as simple as the victim speaking out about suspicious behaviour. Often times, the victim doesn’t fully understand that they’re being financially abused in the first place. Because of this, it’s up to the elderly’s loved ones to react when there are suspicious circumstances that could be financial abuse.

Depending on your involvement with the elderly’s financial accounts or personal life, there are different ways to identify financial elder abuse. To list some general indicators of financial abuse,

  • Dramatic changes in the elderly’s financial position;
  • Assets or property that have suddenly gone missing;
  • Sudden and significant changes to the elderly’s will;
  • Friends or family suddenly being overly attached and invested in the elderly’s life, specifically their financial position;
  • Suspicious or out-of-character purchases/transactions;
  • Large cash withdrawals from the bank; or
  • An elderly person not fully understanding a significant financial situation going on in their life.

How to Help in Situations of Elder Abuse

If you’ve detected a possible case of financial elder abuse, we recommend contacting an experienced lawyer immediately. Depending on the severity of the abuse, there can be a civil or criminal case to be heard before the courts. To remedy the situation, courts can order the removal of a person of power such as a power of attorney or estate executor. In other cases, the person behind the abuse can be ordered to repay and compensate for damages caused. Even if the victim has passed away at the time of the abuse being revealed, it might not be too late to receive justice on the case.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to financial elder abuse, contact an experienced estate lawyer today. We will ensure that the victim will be compensated for any wrongs that they have suffered.

Have a question about this topic or a different legal topic? Contact us for a free consultation. Reach us via phone at 250-888-0002, or via email at

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