Financial Abuse / Financial Exploitation

What is financial abuse: Financial abuse is also referred to as financial exploitation and material exploitation.  Financial exploitation occurs when a person misuses or takes the assets of a vulnerable adult for his/her own personal benefit.  Although the issue may not receive significant community attention, elderly financial abuse is a serious and widespread issue.

This frequently happens without the explicit knowledge or consent of a senior citizen or disabled adult.  Assets are commonly taken via forms of deception, false pretenses, coercion, harassment, duress and threats.  Nursing home patients may be in a unique position to be victims of financial abuse because many residents may not be aware of the situation.  A 2009 study on elder financial abuse prevention estimated that elderly financial abuse may cost victims as much as $2.6 billion each year.  The study suggests that advances in technology, social changes, and increased aging of the population can increase elderly financial abuse.  If you or a loved one suspects any abuse, it should be investigated immediately.

Examples of financial abuse may include:

  • Cashing a resident’s checks without permission or authorization
  • Forging a resident’s signature
  • Using a resident’s ATM or credit card
  • Providing unnecessary services and charging for them
  • Stealing or misusing a resident’s money or possessions
  • Deceiving or coercing a resident to sign documents, such as a contract or will
  • Improper use of guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney.

Who commits Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse can be committed by virtually any individual who has contact with a nursing home resident.  More commonly, abuse can occur with those who have close relationships with the elderly as opposed to strangers.  Facility caregivers, family members, colleagues, affiliates, or close friends of the resident may commit financial abuse.   Many times, an individual commits financial abuse after being grated power of attorney to control finances or resources of the nursing home resident.

Preventing Financial Abuse:

Friends and family members should educate themselves and be aware of the warning signs of financial abuse in order to expedite action when suspicions arise.  A few methods for preventing elderly financial abuse include:

  • Reviewing nursing home facilities and references before hiring anyone to administer care
  • Take part in automatic bill paying systems and direct deposit to limit financial obligations
  • Communicate with banks and financial institutions about spending
  • Be wary of caregivers who attempt to isolate a resident

The attorneys at Brooks, LeBoeuf, Bennett, Foster & Gwartney, P.A. are available to answer your most common questions about Nursing Home Claims.  For further assistance please call us at 850-222-2000