How to Recognize Financial Exploitation of the Elderly in Florida
Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly has become a huge issue throughout Florida. Palm Beach guardianship lawyers and estate attorneys frequently receive calls from concerned relatives or friends regarding an elderly person being financially abused. What are the different ways that an elderly person may be financially exploited? How can you detect if your mom or dad is being financially exploited? What should you do if you believe that your elderly relative is being taken advantage of by a caretaker or “friend” ? When do you need an experienced Florida guardianship lawyer?
Florida Couple Arrested for Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
A recent article by Fox News describes just one way that an elderly person can be financially exploited. Here, a Florida couple allegedly stole over $50,000 from the bank account of an 82-year-old veteran. They stole most of the money by placing threatening calls to the man. They would tell him that, if he didn’t pay, he would have to go to jail. The police became aware of this scam because the poor elderly man called the Veterans Crisis Center after discovering that his bank account had been drained. He told the Crisis Center that his bank accounts were negative, and that he didn’t know what to do other than to end his own life. To read the entire article about this Florida exploitation of the elderly case, click here.
Power of Attorney Mis-Use
The above article discusses how an elderly person can be financially exploited by a scam that involves threats. Although West Palm Beach guardianship attorneys do see cases like that in Florida, power of attorney mis-use is a form of financial exploitation in Florida that Florida lawyers see even more often. A power of attorney is a very powerful document because it allows another person to make decisions and do things on your behalf. For example, you may provide that your power of attorney can make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. A power of attorney may also be able to write checks on your behalf and even withdraw money from your bank account. Therefore, if a power of attorney document falls into the wrong hands, it can prove to be extremely financially dangerous.
How do you know if your elderly relative was financially exploited by his or her power of attorney? Has the power of attorney for your mom or dad written checks to herself? Has the power of attorney for your beloved Aunt changed the beneficiary designations on her bank accounts? Has the power of attorney of your elderly neighbor transferred the deed to the elderly neighbor’s house into her own name? These are all ways that financially exploitation can occur by mis-use of a power of attorney.
Changing the Deed on the Florida Home
Has your mom been unduly influenced by a caretaker to deed her Florida house to the caretaker? Frequently, probate lawyers encounter cases where greedy caretakers or family members unduly influence an elderly person to deed him or her their home. In other words, they usually figure out a way to coerce or force the elderly person to deed the home to them and, but for that force, the elderly person would not have done that. We’ve seen Florida cases where the adult children of the elderly person convince mom or dad to put the house in their name so that they can supposedly take care of the house for them. Then, once in their name, they sell the house and keep all of the money for themselves. This is financial abuse, and if this has happened to you or and elderly person you know, you should consider contacting an experienced Florida litigator.
Another red flag would be noticing that your elderly friend or relative gave a caretaker or someone an unusually large gift. It’s even more questionable if that large gift was given without reason. For example, we have seen cases where an elderly person all of a sudden gives his or her caretaker a check for $100,000. This could potentially be questionable. As probate litigators, we frequently see last minute changes to wills that are the result of undue influence. It could be suspicious if an elderly person who has had a will for 40 years leaving everything to his kids all of a sudden, 10 days before his death, changes his will to leave everything to his caretaker or neighbor.
Alzheimers and Dementia
Unfortunately, probate and guardianship lawyers know that financial exploiters tend to pray on elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, if you suspect that your elderly parent or friend, who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, is being financially exploited, you may want to learn about Florida guardianships.
In Florida, guardianship litigation is booming.A family member can file a Florida guardianship for an adult who is no longer able to care for himself. A guardianship can protect an elderly person from being financially exploited as long as the appointed guardian can be trusted. If you are looking to interview a Florida guardianship lawyer, free of charge, please call (561)514-0900 ext.101. To learn more about financial exploitation of the elderly in Florida, you may also want to read the relevant Florida Statute.