What to do if you suspect elder financial abuse

Elder abuse is horrific in every form it takes. Authorities have estimated that financial scams of the elderly are the crime of the future, and caregivers and family members also, unfortunately, take advantage of seniors as well. Older men and women are easy targets, since they have assets, are often incapacitated and are otherwise trusting.

What should you do if you suspect elder financial abuse? AgingCare.com outlines the process, but the bottom line is, report it. Even if you aren’t sure it’s happening, or fear retaliation.

In Florida, you are able to make a report of abuse confidentially. In any report, whether written or verbal, certain essential information must be included in order to permit law enforcement to do its job. You can talk to police confidentially, and you can even call your local Crime Stoppers chapter to ensure you remain anonymous.

According to Aging Care:

“You must name the elder whom you think is being abused, and identify the address where the elder can be found. You must name the suspected abuser, and provide that address if you have it. You are not required to give your name, but it can be helpful for you to answer law enforcement’s questions as an investigation of the suspected abuse begins. If you report abuse, the matter will likely be referred for investigation, and an experienced investigator will contact you. If you are afraid of the suspected abuser, you can remain anonymous. You will need to identify the location of any suspected actions which appear to you to be abuse, whether they are at the elder’s home, or a facility caring for the elder.”

If the person stealing is another relative, it’s painful and overwhelming. But just think about how you are protecting your loved one from financial abuse. Many seniors are incapacitated, because they suffer from dementia or another age-related issue, so they have no idea they are being swindled by someone they love and trust. Some older men and women know what is going on but are either too afraid or embarrassed to report it themselves. And others worry about getting a son, daughter, niece, nephew or friend in trouble so they simply let it go, at the risk of going broke themselves. If you see something, say something today.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.