The financial health of your loved ones is especially important in their later years. With limited income and increased health needs, their budgets should be carefully balanced so that they can be comfortable whether living at home or receiving assistance from a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, many people are prepared to take advantage of elderly people, and your loved one’s comfort could be at stake.

Knowing the signs of financial abuse will allow you to act quickly and protect your loved one from danger.

What are the signs of financial abuse?

Financial abuse occurs when someone uses an older person’s assets when they do not have that person’s permission or the legal right to do so. Abuse can also occur when the trust of an older person is misused. This abuse can involve threats, using an elderly person’s money or possessions without permission and unauthorized account usage. It can also involve the agent of an elderly person misusing power of attorney for personal gain.

Signs of financial abuse can include:

  • Unexpected changes in your loved one’s estate plan, especially if a large amount of assets or control shifts to one person
  • Checks with suspicious or outright forged signatures
  • Unexplained withdrawals from a bank account
  • Behavior on a credit card that would be unusual for your loved one, like late-night purchases in another town
  • An inability to keep up necessary payments or buy food
  • Changed mailing address for bank statements, card statements and other information

While telemarketing and email scams targeting elderly people are usually perpetrated by strangers, financial abuse can be perpetrated by a wide variety of people. Strangers may get close to elderly people specifically to gain access to their money. Caregivers may use the power they have over patients to threaten them or steal from them. Family members can take advantage of those relationships in order to manipulate elderly people near the end of their life.

When you see signs of financial abuse, it can be important to act quickly to protect your elderly loved ones from further mistreatment. California law offers your loved ones legal protection, and an experienced elder law attorney can help you hold abusers accountable in court.