What is Financial Exploitation
By Elder Law Attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in Aurora, IL. Law Elder Law is a multi-generational firm serving the suburbs of Chicago in Illinois. The definition of financial exploitation may vary based on your location in the US, but there are some standard, common sense red flags to watch for. I have seen this type of abuse far too many times, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with the finances of your family, a loved one with special needs, or an aging loved one. That’s where a qualified and experienced Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney comes in – Law Elder Law may be uniquely qualified to help you find peace of mind. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, “Financial exploitation occurs when a person misuses or takes the assets of a vulnerable adult for his/her own personal benefit. This frequently occurs without the explicit knowledge or consent of a senior or disabled adult, depriving him/her of vital financial resources for his/her personal needs. Assets are commonly taken via forms of deception, false pretenses, coercion, harassment, duress and threats. These are commonly reported forms of financial exploitation reported to Adult Protective Services agencies:
- Theft: involves assets taken without knowledge, consent or authorization; may include taking of cash, valuables, medications other personal property.
- Fraud: involves acts of dishonesty by persons entrusted to manage assets but appropriate assets for unintended uses; may include falsification of records, forgeries, unauthorized check-writing, and Ponzi-type financial schemes.
- Real Estate: involves unauthorized sales, transfers or changes to property title(s); may include unauthorized or invalid changes to estate documents.
- Contractor: includes building contractors or handymen who receive payment(s) for building repairs, but fail to initiate or complete project; may include invalid liens by contractors.
- Lottery scams: involves payments (or transfer of funds) to collect unclaimed property or “prizes” from lotteries or sweepstakes.
- Electronic: includes “phishing” e-mail messages to trick persons into unwittingly surrendering bank passwords; may include faxes, wire transfers, telephonic communications.
- Mortgage: includes financial products which are unaffordable or out-of-compliance with regulatory requirements; may include loans issued against property by unauthorized parties.
- Investment: includes investments made without knowledge or consent; may include high-fee funds (front or back-loaded) or excessive trading activity to generate commissions for financial advisors.
- Insurance: involves sales of inappropriate products, such as a thirty-year annuity for a very elderly person; may include unauthorized trading of life insurance policies.”