How to Spot Financial Exploitation of Your Elderly Loved One

It’s unfortunate that some see the vulnerability of an elderly individual as a chance to profit, but financial exploitation is a crime that’s all too common in our society. Even worse, the culprit is often a caretaker or a member of the family who has close ties to the victim. When you discover misconduct, it may be too late: The perpetrator has taken money, real, estate, and other property. Fortunately, there are methods to detect issues so your loved one isn’t a victim of elder financial exploitation in California.

Changes in Bank Accounts


Obvious signs may be checks written out under questionable circumstances, or other cash withdrawals. Other indicators are getting money from an ATM when the elderly person doesn’t normally use a machine. You should also look to determine if any changes have been made on account ownership or designations of beneficiaries.

Missing Personal Property


If your friend or family member has personal collections of considerable value, their disappearance should immediately raise red flags. Keep tabs on electronics, tools, collections, and other valuable belongings.

Modifying Estate Plan


A person may convince or threaten an elderly individual to change estate planning documents to gain financial advantage. The will is a common target, but there are other ways a scam artist can interfere with an estate plan, such as a trust or life insurance policy. An offender may even modify a power of attorney to appoint himself or herself as agent to control financial matters.

Unable to Meet Financial Obligations


If you discover that your elderly loved one is unexpectedly unable to cover bills or provide for basic needs, this can be a warning sign. For example, if utilities or other services are shut off for non-payment, it could mean another person is taking that money. You should also be concerned if bill collectors are reaching out to your loved one or foreclosure is being threatened.

Consult with an Elder Law Lawyer Right Away

It’s possible to put an end to financial exploitation if you can detect the signs that someone is taking advantage of your elderly loved one. You should report misconduct immediately, but consulting with an attorney should also be a priority. A lawyer with significant experience in elder law can tell you about your options, and determine whether it’s possible to recover misappropriated property. For more information, please contact the Law Office of Charles D. Stark, serving clients throughout Sonoma County, California.

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