Seven Warning Signs of Financial Abuse You Should Not Ignore

Elder abuse is a serious problem in Michigan and throughout the United States. Abuse can take many forms, including financial abuse. Financial abusers steal money or items from elderly individuals or mismanage a senior’s money for the abuser’s benefit. Below are seven signs that may indicate an older adult is the victim of financial abuse.

Seven Signs Your Loved One Might Be the Victim of Financial Abuse

  • Past Due Bills — If bills are not paid, someone could be using your loved one’s money for other purposes.
  • Financial Transactions Impossible for Your Loved One to Perform — When you balance your family member’s checking account, you notice multiple charges for theater tickets, the wine shop, or high-scale restaurants. However, your loved one does not leave home and does not consume alcohol.
  • Changes in Estate Planning Documents — A family member can change his or her estate plan at any time. However, suspicious changes in wills and powers of attorney should be carefully reviewed, especially if they now include someone you barely know, such as a new caregiver.
  • Missing Property or Possessions — Financial abuse can also include theft of property. If you notice your loved one’s possessions disappearing, someone could be selling the property to make money.
  • Accumulation of New Possessions — Likewise, noticing that your loved one has a lot of new possessions could be an indication of financial abuse if the person would not use those possessions. Your loved one’s money may have paid for the items, but another person is benefiting from the items.
  • Small Amounts of Money are Missing — An abuser may withdraw small amounts of money from accounts to avoid being caught. However, withdrawing small amounts over a long period creates a pattern. If you see a pattern of small withdrawals, especially for the same amount, this could indicate financial abuse.
  • Lack of Food and Personal Care Items — If someone is using your loved one’s money for that person’s benefit, your loved one will not have enough money to purchase what he or she needs. A lack of food and personal items could also indicate financial abuse.

Be Suspicious of New Friends, Caregivers, or Romantic Partners

Elderly individuals may be too trusting of new people in their lives, especially when that person is providing care and companionship. Scammers, financial abusers, and con artists are extremely talented. They target seniors who may be lonely or vulnerable. It usually does not take them very long to gain the senior’s trust. Once they gain their trust, it is much easier to steal money and property from the senior.

If a new person comes into your family member’s life, you may want to increase your attentiveness when it comes to your loved one’s money and property.

How Can I Prevent Elder Financial Abuse?

Visit your elderly family members frequently and remain active in their lives. Con artists and others prey on elderly individuals who are alone a great deal of the time. Regular contact with your family member may scare off a scam artist.

Consult an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney about ways that you can reduce the risk of elder financial abuse. Trust agreements may be one way you can ensure property remains safe and is only used for the benefit of your loved one.

Contact a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Our Michigan estate planning attorneys can help your loved one create a comprehensive estate plan that includes various documents designed to make it much more difficult for someone to commit financial abuse.

Call 888-390-4360 or use the contact form on our website for more information or to schedule an appointment with a Michigan elder law attorney.

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