Trusted Financial Elder Abuse Lawyer

Financial abuse is the theft or embezzlement of money or any other property from an elder. It can be as simple as taking money from a wallet and as complex as manipulating a victim into turning over property to an abuser. This form of abuse can be devastating because an elder victim’s life savings can disappear in the blink of an eye, leaving them unable to provide for their needs and afraid of what an uncertain tomorrow will bring.

 
 

What is financial elder abuse ?

Civil law defines elder financial abuse as a form of elder abuse when a person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates or retains (or assists in the process) real or personal property of an elder to a wrongful use or with the intent to defraud, or both. (Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.30 ) Elder financial abuse can also be a criminal offense if "theft or embezzlement" (Penal Code Sections 368(d)(e), & 484- 487), "forgery" (Penal Code 470), or filing "forged documents" (Penal Code 115) are involved. 

 

Recognizing the warning signs of financial elder abuse

The existence of any one or more of these indicators does not necessarily mean that abuse has occurred. Instead, treat them as signs that diligent attention or investigation is needed.

Behavioral warning signs:
   •Withdrawn
   •Confused or extremely forgetful
   •Depressed
   •Helpless or angry
   •Hesitant to talk freely
   •Frightened
   •Secretive

Isolation warning signs:
   • Elder is isolated or lonely with no visitors or relatives. Family members or caregiver isolate the individual, restricting the person’s contact with others.

   • Elder is not given the opportunity to speak freely or have contact with others without the caregiver being present.

Other warning signs may include:
   • Unusual bank account activity, such as withdrawals from automatic teller machines when the individual cannot get to the bank.

   • Signatures on checks and other documents that do not resemble the elder’s signature.

   • Checks or other documents signed when the elder cannot write or understand what he or she is signing.

   • Lack of personal amenities – appropriate clothing and grooming items.

   • Numerous unpaid bills when someone else has been designated to pay the bills.

   • Change in spending patterns, such as buying items he or she doesn’t need and can’t use.

   • The appearance of a stranger who begins a new close relationship and offers to manage the elder’s finances and assets.

 

What are other types of financial elder abuse ?

Beware of "living trust mills" and annuity salespersons:  Thousands of senior citizens and other members of the public have been solicited by salespeople calling themselves "Senior Advisors" or "Medi-Cal Specialists" and have been invited to attend free seminars. These seminars conducted by so-called "experts" promote the purchase of various estate planning services, including legal and tax counseling, the review of legal documents, and the preparation of new wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, including annuities.

Seniors are often sold trusts that they do not need or scared into buying annuities as a way of protecting their home and other assets from future estate claims by Medi-Cal. Such investments are often sold by inadequately-trained personnel and are sold without proper disclosure or without regard to the suitability of the investment. Senior citizens have suffered financial losses and have had their applications for long-term care Medi-Cal adversely affected by purchasing products from "trust mills."

Medicare or Medi-Cal fraud: Some health care organizations, durable medical equipment providers, and health care professionals commit this type of fraud against the Medicare or Medi-Cal programs by over-charging for services or by billing for services, drugs, or supplies that were unnecessary or not performed at all.

It also involves receiving kickbacks for referrals. It is estimated that Medi-Cal fraud accounts for 3 to 10 % of the overall Medi-Cal budget.

Telemarketing fraud:  Americans lose an estimated $40 billion each year due to the fraudulent sales of goods and services over the telephone. AARP has found that 56% of those called by telemarketers are aged 50 or older.

It can be extremely difficult to tell if a telemarketing call is legitimate. This is especially true if you are being pressured to make an instant decision; for example, to send money right away in order to claim a prize that has been won. Scams can range from prize offers to travel packages to phony charities. Be wary of telemarketing sales pitches that sound too good to be true...they probably are!

Home improvement scams:  Home improvement scams are often committed by groups of individuals who go door-to door in an effort to sell “home improvement” services. Often, they come into a neighborhood and offer to repair a driveway or re-shingle a roof which they claim is in immediate need of repair. They promise to do the work for a very low fee if the individual agrees to have the work done immediately. When the victim agrees, he or she discovers the fee is much higher after the work has been completed or that the work was done using inferior materials. Quite often the scam artist will do the work for a low fee for one resident in a neighborhood to create a referral in the area to draw in other victims.

It is important to remember that often these individuals can do more than overcharge or perform shoddy work. Sometimes one individual will work outside and another may go into the house for a drink of water and then steal valuables. Far too often, the victim does not know the items are missing until the criminals are gone.

Predatory lending:  More than 80% of Americans aged 50 and older are homeowners. Elders are often the target of unscrupulous lenders who pressure them into high-interest loans they may not be able to repay. Older homeowners are often persuaded to borrow money through home equity loans for home repairs, debt consolidation or to pay health care costs. These loans are sold as a “miracle financial cure,” and homeowners are devastated to find out they cannot afford to pay off the loans and, as a result, may lose their home. Often these loans are packed with excessive fees, costly credit insurance, pre-payment penalties and balloon payments.

Estate planning hazards:  “Estate planning” is the ordering of one’s affairs so that personal and financial matters will be taken care of upon death or incapacitation. Estate planning devices may include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and joint tenancies.

People can take advantage of the power given to them in estate planning devices. For example, a “Power of Attorney” works well if it contains clear directions that reflect your wishes and vests your care and well-being with a reliable individual. On the other hand, a “Power of Attorney” can lead to elder abuse if it grants power to a person with no interest in protecting you. Powers of Attorney can be used to take money from your bank, transfer property and even have you involuntarily placed in a long-term care facility.

"Undue influence" is present when there is a confidential relationship between you and another person and the person gains unfair advantage over you. Undue influence is present when someone isolates you from family and friends and then convinces you to execute estate planning documents in that person’s favor.


We Care

Nursing homes should be where your loved ones are taken care of and watched over. We are ready to take anyone that abuses your loved one to court. We also will make sure that your loved one receives the compensation they deserve for being mistreated and abused in a facility that was suppose to take care of them. Contact the Phillips Law Offices today if you need a nursing home abuse attorney or just have questions and want to talk. Give us a call at (530) 265-0186.