LegalJourney Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Financial Abuse of Elders

The financial abuse of seniors is a growing area of crime in America.

 

This kind of abuse often comes at the hand of caregivers who manage to deplete an elderly person’s life savings. Sadly, a lot of this theft is committed by family members. According to a study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 60 percent of financial abuse cases involved an adult child of the elderly person; women are twice as likely to be victims as men, although elderly men are also abused, most frequently those who are living alone.  

 Currently, there are no federal laws regarding financial elder abuse, and only two states, California and Florida, have laws that require the reporting of financial elder abuse (or abuse of any handicapped adult). However, most states have a department on aging charged with tracking these cases. Unfortunately, there is little if any coordination between these departments and the authorities. So elder abuse often does not get reported or investigated. 
 

Nonetheless, growing media attention is shining a light on the problem and the federal government is taking notice. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a guide to help professional caregivers protect the people in their care by preventing and addressing financial scams. The guide helps them recognize, record, and report suspected financial abuse by family members and others who are handling the finances of an elderly or incapacitated adult. 

 
The American Bankers Association also recently announced an alliance with AARP to work on the financial elder abuse crisis. ABA president Frank Keating said in a statement: "Our planned alliance with AARP will help us provide bankers, older Americans, and their caregivers with the tools they need to thwart financial crimes." 
 
There are other steps people can take to protect elders. If a sibling or other caregiver is handling a parent’s financial affairs, and if there might be abuse, an attorney can help to pursue a legal case and protect an elder person’s rights. 

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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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