What is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of a person’s property, bank accounts or other assets. It often occurs between an older person and a family member, or a friend or carer.
Elder financial abuse is sometimes described as the “ultimate betrayal”, particularly when carried out by a family member. It often occurs in circumstances where the older person is vulnerable, lonely, frail and/or isolated.
Examples of financial abuse occur where an older person is not aware of, or has not provided informed consent, for some of the following:
- Withdrawing money from an older person’s bank or credit card
- Sale of an older person’s property, or transferring an older person’s property into joint names with a friend, carer or family member
- Using an older person’s property to obtain a mortgage or finance
- Encouraging an older person to sell their home or lend money, with a promise of looking after them for life or providing them with alternative accommodation and failing to do so
- The use of an enduring power of attorney to carry out transactions that are not for the benefit of the older person
- Taking advantage of an older person for financial gain
What are the signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Some signs of financial abuse are:
- the older person realises they are unable to pay their household bills
- the older person realises they are unable to afford the level of care they expected.
Elder financial abuse is often uncovered by family members however, professionals, including lawyers and accountants, may also identify or suspect elder financial abuse of their clients. The Australian Bankers Association has released best practice guidelines to ensure that tellers, and banks, are alert to warning signs on their older customers’ accounts.
How we can help
Elder financial abuse can arise in many different contexts. The options available to an older person in circumstances where they have suffered at the hands of family members, friends, carers or third parties depend on how the abuse occurred.
Slater and Gordon has acted for older people in the following circumstances:
- Claims against carers who pressure older people into carrying out financial transactions against the older person’s interests
- Claims against a banks which fail to ensure that a valid mandate is obtained from elderly clients, resulting in financial losses suffered
- Claims to set aside mortgage or lending facilities fraudulently entered into by older person’s son
- Claims against family members where older people’s vulnerability is taken advantage of, for financial gain
- Claims involving inappropriate use of powers of attorney
- Claims against solicitors for preparing enduring powers of attorney at the request of the older person’s adult child, but failing to obtain the older person’s instructions or informed consent
There can often be a way to address the elder abuse and older people and their family members should seek legal advice as soon as they become aware of a problem. Speak with us today.