What are the warning signs of elder financial abuse?
Elder abuse is an action against someone 60 or older that harms the person mentally, physically, emotionally, or financially. Physical and mental abuse seem to occur most often. At the Annuity Master we realize elder financial abuse is becoming a growing concern with the vast number of baby boomers entering their senior years. And with baby boomers, it’s the wealthiest generation of Americans ever, controlling trillions in assets.
Elder financial abuse happens on many levels, but following are the most prevalent:
Banking withdrawals — Money is leaving the account in ways the owner cannot explain. A trusted person may be paying bills on behalf of an elderly person, but end up taking advantage of the situation for personal gain. Additionally, bank statements are unaccounted for.
Legal documents — Changes to legal documents, especially in cases where money is being assigned. But also consider areas where a signature could be forged to initiate a reverse mortgage or take out a loan using the elder person’s assets as collateral.
Auto titles — Monitor the title of an elderly person’s, to be sure it’s not missing and located at the local title loan shop where it’s been leveraged for a short term loan. The unpaid loan can result in a vehicle being repossessed.
Cash — It’s not good for elderly to keep cash, though many elder are accustomed to having hundreds of dollars in cash stored for quick access. Cash should be closely monitored or not used at all when the elderly person is no longer going out to retail settings.
Insurance documents — Taking out loans against various types of life insurance policies and annuities can be easily done with a forged signature. These documents should be kept in a safety deposit box not be left around where they are easily accessible.
Retirement documents/accounts — Like life insurance, retirement accounts be easily drawn from with forged signatures. These documents, as well, should be stored in a safety deposit box where they cannot be easily found by a caretaker or third parties.
Elder financial abuse is on the rise, and as degenerating issues increase such abuse is more likely to happen. The Annuity Master recommends — In situations where there are at least 2 trusted children — both should be helping the aging parent with finances. Any time a check-and-balance approach is taken with 2 trusted sources, elder financial abuse can be curtailed. In most cases, it usually happens when only one person has access to the elderly person’s financial means.
If you suspect any form of elder financial abuse, reach out to trusted family sources first, which is often ones who don’t live locally to the parent. The next contact should be followed Adult Protective Services, who will take a series of steps to intervene on the elderly person’s behalf. Contact the Annuity Master for additional questions.