Manipulating or tricking an elder out of their money is financial abuse. Guardianships and trustees might embezzle, manipulate or fool elders, so loved ones may want to regularly check in to ensure nothing fishy is going on.
Warning signs of financial elder abuse:
- Unpaid bills
- A change in their living conditions
- Suspicious ATM withdrawals
- Unusual or significant withdrawals
- Signing over their will to a neighbor or a friend
- Subscriptions that they wouldn’t have
Californians can report financial elder abuse to local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services. This isn’t the same as filing a lawsuit. If you want to seek compensation, then you must also file a claim.
When a guardian or trustee handles federal government benefits, such as Social Security and Veterans Affairs, you could report it to the respective agencies. Your contact points would be the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the VA Office of the Inspector General.
One possible way that a court could respond to financial elder abuse by a conservator or trustee is to freeze the accounts. The judge might limit access or assign a co-guardian rather than completely freeze the elder’s accounts.
Removing the trustee, conservator or agent under power of attorney
If a fiduciary is guilty, then the court may suspend and/or remove them from their role. Removal of any fiduciary requires an evidentiary hearing (trial).
The court can suspend the fiduciary prior to a trial if there is sufficient imminent harm.
Courts have the right to investigate allegations of financial abuse. They may appoint a visitor, an investigator or a guardian ad litem to look into claims.
State and federal courts have the power to restrict a guardian or trustee when reports of financial abuse arise. If you want compensation on behalf of your loved one, however, you need to file a lawsuit.