Unfortunately, elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Elder abuse is a failure to act or an intentional act by a caregiver or another person in a position of trust that creates or causes a risk of harm to an older adult.
There are several primary categories of elder abuse, including elder financial abuse. Do you know what is considered elder financial abuse or exploitation in California? If you need assistance identifying potential elder exploitation, the skilled California elder abuse lawyers at Silva Injury Law are here to help.
What Is the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act?
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15600 is part of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act that protects elders and dependent adults from neglect, abuse, or abandonment. A primary example of elder financial abuse is stealing money from the person.
Under Code section 15510.30, elder financial abuse occurs when someone engages in any of the following actions:
- Appropriates, takes, obtains, or retains an elderly person’s, or dependent adult’s, real or personal property to defraud them or wrongfully use the property, or both;
- Assists another person or entity in any of the above activities; or
- Uses undue influence to appropriate, take, obtain, or retain the person’s real or personal property to defraud them or wrongfully use the property, or both.
Real property is real estate, while personal property includes items such as cars, money, jewelry, artwork, stocks, and more. Removing an elder’s real or personal property doesn’t necessarily mean physically removing the item either. Depriving an elder or dependent adult of their property rights through a transfer or agreement of property held by a representative is also financial abuse.
According to the Justice Department, elder financial abuse and exploitation is the leading category of abuse. It’s crucial to monitor your elderly family members and friends to ensure they do not become targets of unscrupulous parties looking to take advantage of them.
Examples of Elder Financial Abuse
So many actions can qualify as financial elder abuse. Taking a few dollars from a person’s wallet or using their phone for long-distance calls is a crime. Other examples include:
- Intercepting checks or cash,
- Telemarketing scams,
- Power of attorney fraud,
- Identity theft,
- Befriending an elder to get elaborate gifts,
- Convincing an elder to hand over money or personal property,
- Coercing the person to change their estate planning documents,
- Forging the person’s signature,
- Home improvement scams, and
- Failing to pay for the nursing home share of costs.
Sometimes the financial abuse is not easy to spot because it may be only minor things here and there, such as a few dollars or small personal items. Often, the abuse will progress once the trust level builds, and the abuser eventually convinces the elder to change their will or trust.
Potential Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
Watch for red flags that might identify potential financial abuse, such as:
- Sudden and unexpected withdrawals from the account;
- Newly opened accounts;
- Unnecessary subscriptions or services popping up;
- Sudden change in the person’s financial health;
- Unexplained ATM withdrawals;
- Sudden transfer of assets;
- A new person in the elder’s life who offers to manage assets and finances;
- Missing items in the home;
- Financial statements sent to another party; and
- A family member or caretaker isolating the elder, keeping them from contacting others.
Anyone can be an abuser. It’s not limited to caretakers or nursing home staff. Family members, friends, and even neighbors could be guilty of elder exploitation. Watch out for professionals, such as financial advisors, bankers, medical providers, and even some attorneys. Embezzling funds or deceptive billing practices are typical examples of elder financial abuse.
Contact Our Lawyers at Silva Injury Law
If you suspect someone you love is the victim of elder financial abuse, it’s time to contact a California elder abuse lawyer. You must take action and help hold the accountable parties responsible for their actions. In many cases, the offenders may face criminal charges on top of a civil lawsuit. Attorney Michael Joe Silva has previous experience as a prosecutor, so he understands how to build the best case possible.
Pursuing a claim for elder financial abuse is not necessarily straightforward. It would help if you had a skilled legal advocate on your side. If you have questions about what is considered elder financial abuse or exploitation in California, contact Silva Injury Law today to schedule an initial consultation.
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At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.