Unfortunately, as we get older our abilities of discernment decrease and the way we judge others, particularly when it comes to how trustworthy a person is, makes us more vulnerable. Sadly, there are legal issues that may arise when we outlive our good judgment.
One of the most common issues comes in the form of elder financial abuse. Although this type of elder abuse may come in many forms, they all have a common denominator – theft. Sometimes the abuse is at the hands of a family member, a caregiver, a companion or friend, or someone that you met and think you can trust such as a member of your church. When it happens, banks, family members, and others that are caught in the middle may seek the legal assistance of an experienced elder abuse attorney to try to remedy the problems their loved one is facing. Unfortunately, if you wait too long to contact an attorney, it can be even more difficult to recover misappropriated assets.
How Elder Financial Abuse Occurs
Many financial abuse cases of elderly people begin with the elderly person giving someone the power of attorney over their financial and other affairs. After that, the individual given the authority can do about anything they want. They can make unapproved purchases, sell the property, move money to other accounts, and more. One common tactic is to establish a joint checking account that is in the name of the power of attorney and the elderly person. Living expenses and bills that aren’t that of the elderly individual get paid out of that account and money may even be moved to investments and other savings accounts.
Although this arrangement may be used responsibly, it is also an easy way for people to steal because there is very little, if any, oversight on the checks that are written. The financial abuser can easily justify or disguise the expenses and withdrawals and they are increasingly hard to challenge as time passes.
Fortunately, South Carolina created a law that allows an account to be set up that is called an agent account. This allows the agent to write checks on the account but does not allow the agent to keep the funds that are left in the account after the account holder dies. While this doesn’t stop all financial abuse, it can slow it down.
Watch for Warning Signs
If you have a family member who is getting older and having trouble managing their finances, it is important to be aware of signs of financial abuse. Some of the warning signs may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A caregiver that doesn’t want you to see the person that they are taking care of.
- You aren’t allowed to view financial statements and you may even be told it is none of your business.
- Bills and expenses of your loved one are going unpaid, or the caregiver is stingy with expenses.
- Checks are being written for cash.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The key to protecting your loved one from financial abuse is transparency. Anyone who helps care for your loved one should be fine with sharing everything they do with you. You should also receive copies of canceled checks, bank statements, and even a statement of expenses.
Unfortunately, even when you try your best to protect your loved one, financial abuse can still happen. The attorneys at David Aylor Law Offices can help you understand your legal options if the worst-case scenario does happen. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.