Elder Financial Abuse Often Goes Unnoticed

If it can happen to Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anyone.

Elder financial abuse is a real and growing epidemic in the United States, hard as that is to imagine. Unfortunately, we live in a society that too often looks at the elderly as “less than.” Unscrupulous adults who are hard pressed for cash can take advantage of older people and sponge up their assets before loved ones realize what’s happening.

Iconic actor Mickey Rooney was among the most famous victims of elder abuse — both physical and financial (the two may go hand in hand) — and the perpetrators were his own flesh and blood, as is so often the case.

Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is difficult to detect before it’s too late. In an effort to change that, CBS News recently ran a report on the most common signs of financial elder abuse. They include:

  • New “best friends”
  • Sudden obsession with an online acquaintance or lover
  • Unpaid bills, collection letters, or eviction notices
  • Disconnected utilities
  • Large, unexplained transfers or withdrawals
  • Recent estate documents, including powers of attorney, entrusted to suspicious parties
  • Missing property / assets / cash
  • Bank statements stop arriving in the mail
  • Outlandish stories about where all the money has gone
  • Suspicious signatures on checks
  • Caregivers begin to ask suspiciously probing questions about finances
  • Lots of money being spent on “care giving” but little to show for it

The National Committee for the Prevention for Elder Abuse, which proffered those tips to CBS, stresses that any of these observations might have more innocent explanations. But if something seems off, concerned loved ones should thoroughly investigate.

Elder financial abuse thrives on assumption, secrecy, and trust. Don’t let someone you love be taken advantage of by someone with selfish motives.

If you need help or have questions about your rights, don’t hesitate to call our New Jersey elder law attorney. We’re here to help.