Kansas City Elder Financial Abuse Attorneys
Financial Abuse by Nursing Homes & Caregivers
When most people think of nursing home abuse, they imagine physical acts of violence committed by staff against residents. While this certainly can and does occur, it is far from the only type of nursing home abuse.
Financial abuse against the elderly is far more common than many people realize. According to the National Council on Aging, financial elder abuse costs victims approximately $2.6 to $36.5 billion every year—and instances of this type of abuse are likely underreported.
If you or your loved one has suffered financial abuse at the hands of a trusted caregiver or nursing home facility, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., we represent victims of all types of nursing home abuse, including financial abuse and exploitation. We invite you to get in touch with our team today to learn how we can help you seek justice.
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Understanding Financial Abuse
Financial abuse, also known as financial exploitation, occurs when one person or party attempts to defraud or steal from another or takes someone else’s money or personal belongings for their own use. Sadly, many financial abusers target older individuals. And, in fact, seniors may be at a higher risk of financial exploitation due to a variety of factors, including the fact that they are more likely to suffer from mental impairments, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Elderly individuals may also be less savvy when it coms to online security, making them a target for predators carrying out online scams.
Financial abuse can come from anywhere. Adult children are most often the perpetrators of elder financial abuse, but nursing homes and other long-term care facilities frequently exploit residents.
Examples of Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes
Some common examples of financial abuse in nursing homes include:
- Stealing checkbooks or credit/debit cards
- Unlawfully accessing residents’ bank information and accounts
- Making unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts
- Pressuring residents into rewriting wills, trusts, or powers of attorney
- Forcing residents to include caregivers in wills
- Deceiving residents into transferring ownership of personal property
These and other acts of financial abuse and exploitation can have lasting consequences, significantly affecting the elderly victim and their family. Unfortunately, elder financial abuse can be difficult to spot, which is why it is so important that friends, family members, and loved ones know what signs to look out for when it comes to identifying possible mistreatment.
Can Elder Law Be Used to Commit Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse is a growing problem that affects thousands of elderly individuals each year. Unfortunately, elder law can be used as an avenue for exploiting and taking advantage of seniors financially. From forcing the elderly to rewrite their wills to deceiving residents into transferring ownership of property, these acts can have devastating consequences on victims and their families. It’s important to understand how elder law is used to commit such abuses so that we can better protect our elderly loved ones from becoming victims.
Here are a few of the ways abusers use elder law against their victims:
- Forcing elderly individuals to rewrite wills, trusts, or powers of attorney with the goal of taking advantage of inheritances and other benefits for themselves.
- Using undue influence in order to gain access to bank accounts or credit cards belonging to the victim.
- Manipulating elders into transferring ownership of personal property, such as homes and cars, with no monetary compensation given in return for the transfer of goods or services received from the abuser.
- Deceiving victims into signing contracts that grant a financial abuser access control over their finances while leaving them vulnerable and unprotected against further exploitation.
What Are the Signs of Elder Financial Abuse?
Always be wary of anyone who becomes possessive or controlling, especially when it comes to your or your loved one’s finances. One should never feel pressured to give money or personal belongings to someone else, including caregivers and nursing home staff. Thoroughly read all documents before signing and, if you are unsure of what the document states, have someone you trust—such as a lawyer or financial adviser—review it for you.
There are other signs to watch out for that may indicate elder financial abuse. These include:
- Unusual changes in the individual’s financial situation
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
- New names being added to the individual’s bank account or credit cards
- Bounced checks
- Sudden transfer of property rights or ownership
- Changes in spending habits
- Unpaid bills, past due notices, and collections letters
- Unexplained changes to a will, trust, or power of attorney
- New or changed attitude toward money, including acting stressed or worried about finances
If you believe that your elderly loved one may be suffering financial exploitation at the hands of a trusted caregiver or nursing home, take immediate action to stop the abuse. You can contact the long-term care ombudsman in your state or the appropriate government agency to report known or suspected elder abuse, including financial abuse and exploitation.
The Impact of Elder Financial Abuse
Elder financial abuse can have far-reaching and devastating impacts on the victims, affecting them physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. Here are some of the key impacts:
- Financial Loss: One of the most obvious impacts is the direct financial loss suffered by the elderly person. They may lose their savings, investments, property, or other assets, jeopardizing their financial security and potentially leaving them unable to afford basic necessities or healthcare.
- Emotional Distress: Elder financial abuse can lead to significant emotional distress for the victim. They may experience feelings of betrayal, shame, guilt, anger, and vulnerability. This emotional trauma can have long-lasting effects on their mental well-being and overall quality of life.
- Isolation and Trust Issues: Victims of elder financial abuse may become more isolated and withdrawn as they lose trust in others, including family members, caregivers, and financial institutions. This can lead to social withdrawal and a reluctance to seek help or support from others.
- Health Consequences: The stress and anxiety caused by financial abuse can take a toll on the victim's physical health, leading to issues such as high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, and other stress-related conditions. In severe cases, it can even contribute to a decline in overall health and well-being.
- Loss of Independence: Financial abuse can undermine the victim's sense of independence and autonomy. They may feel helpless and dependent on others for their financial affairs, leading to a loss of dignity and self-esteem.
- Legal and Administrative Burdens: Resolving cases of elder financial abuse can be complicated and time-consuming, involving legal proceedings, administrative tasks, and financial recovery efforts. This can further add to the stress and burden experienced by the victim and their family members.
- Increased Risk of Future Abuse: Once targeted, elderly individuals may be seen as easy targets for future financial abuse. They may become more vulnerable to scams, fraud, and exploitation, perpetuating a cycle of victimization and further exacerbating the negative impacts on their lives.
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Protecting Your Loved Ones from Elder Financial Abuse
As our loved ones age, it is important to be vigilant and protect them from potential financial abuse. Elder financial abuse can occur in various forms, such as scams, manipulation, or exploitation by caregivers or nursing homes. At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., LLC, we are dedicated to helping families in Overland Park, KS prevent and address elder financial abuse.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your loved ones:
- Educate yourself and your loved ones: Learn about the common signs and tactics used in elder financial abuse. By being informed, you can better recognize and prevent potential abuse.
- Establish a power of attorney: Appoint a trusted individual to make financial decisions on behalf of your loved one. This can help ensure that their finances are managed responsibly and protect them from potential exploitation.
- Regularly monitor financial accounts: Keep a close eye on your loved one's bank statements, credit card bills, and other financial transactions. Look for any unusual or unauthorized activity and address it promptly.
- Stay connected: Maintain regular communication with your loved one. Isolation can make them more vulnerable to financial abuse. By staying connected, you can detect any changes in their behavior or financial situation that may indicate abuse.
- Report suspected abuse: If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of elder financial abuse, do not hesitate to report it. Contact local law enforcement, adult protective services, or an experienced elder law attorney for guidance and assistance.
At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., LLC, we understand the devastating impact of elder financial abuse. Our experienced attorneys are here to provide compassionate support and legal guidance to protect your loved ones and hold responsible parties accountable.
How to Report Elder Financial Abuse
Reporting elder financial abuse is crucial to protect the victim and prevent further harm. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to report elder financial abuse:
- Document the Evidence: Before reporting, gather as much evidence as possible. This may include bank statements, suspicious documents, emails, or any other relevant information that supports your suspicion of financial abuse. Take detailed notes and document any conversations or interactions related to the abuse.
- Contact Adult Protective Services (APS): APS is a government agency responsible for investigating cases of elder abuse, including financial exploitation. You can find the contact information for your local APS office through your state's Department of Social Services or Aging Services Department. Report the suspected abuse to APS and provide them with all the evidence and information you have gathered.
- Contact Law Enforcement: In cases where there is evidence of criminal activity, such as fraud or theft, you should also contact local law enforcement agencies, such as the police or sheriff's department. They can conduct a criminal investigation and take appropriate legal action against the perpetrators.
- File a Report with Financial Institutions: If you suspect that the financial abuse involves fraudulent transactions or unauthorized access to bank accounts or credit cards, contact the relevant financial institutions immediately. They may be able to freeze accounts, reverse transactions, or take other measures to prevent further financial losses.
- Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney who specializes in elder law or financial exploitation. They can provide you with legal guidance and assistance in navigating the reporting process, filing necessary paperwork, and pursuing civil remedies against the perpetrators.
- Report to Other Relevant Agencies: Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, you may need to report elder financial abuse to other agencies or organizations, such as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These agencies may be able to provide additional support and resources.
- Follow Up: Stay engaged in the reporting process and follow up with the agencies involved to ensure that the case is being investigated and addressed appropriately. Provide any additional information or assistance they may request, and continue to advocate for the victim's rights and well-being.
Remember, reporting elder financial abuse is not only important for protecting the victim but also for holding the perpetrators accountable and preventing future incidents of abuse. If you suspect that an elderly person is being financially exploited, don't hesitate to take action and report it immediately.
When to Hire an Elder Financial Abuse Attorney
The financial abuse and exploitation of seniors costs victims and their families billions of dollars a year in the United States. If you have suffered financial harm due to the fraudulent and unlawful conduct of a nursing home staff member or caregiver, you have the right to take legal action.
We encourage you to contact the Kansas City financial abuse attorneys at the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr. as soon as possible. You have a limited amount of time to file your nursing home abuse claim; if you wait too long, you could lose your right to seek compensation for your damages, including financial loss, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. Our team is standing by, ready to assist you with your case. Reach out to us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Here are a few reasons why you should choose us:
- Experience: Our team of attorneys has decades of experience handling elder financial abuse cases. We have the knowledge and resources to build a strong case on your behalf.
- Compassion: We understand the emotional toll that elder financial abuse can take on victims and their families. We treat our clients with compassion and respect, and we are dedicated to helping them through this difficult time.
- Personalized Attention: We know that every case is unique, which is why we provide personalized attention to each client. We take the time to understand your situation and develop a strategy that meets your specific needs and goals.
- Results: Our track record of success speaks for itself. We have helped numerous clients recover compensation for their losses, and we are ready to fight for you.
Contact us online or by phone at (816) 597-4556.