One of the most prevalent forms of financial exploitation is elderly financial abuse by family.  Generally, elderly individuals are at a higher risk of financial exploitation, particularly by family members who may have access to their financial assets and information.  As a result, this may lead to severe financial harm to the elderly, including loss of savings and assets, leaving them financially vulnerable.

Forms of Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation of the elderly by family members can take various forms, including:

  • Misusing Power of Attorney. Family members may misuse their authority as a Power of Attorney to make unauthorized financial transactions on behalf of the elderly.
  • Coercion and Manipulation: Family members may coerce and manipulate elderly individuals into making financial transactions or signing documents without fully understanding the consequences.
  • Identity Theft: Family members may steal the identities of the elderly to gain access to their financial assets and information.
  • Theft and Embezzlement: Family members may outright steal money and assets from the elderly without their consent or knowledge.
Signs of Financial Exploitation

Forensic accountants should be on the lookout for signs of financial exploitation, including:

  • Unusual financial transactions or transfers.
  • Unexplained withdrawals or expenditures.
  • Sudden changes to the elderly individual’s will or power of attorney.
  • Missing documents or financial records.
  • Isolation from friends and family members.
Prevention and Reporting

Other family and friends can play a crucial role in preventing and reporting financial exploitation of the elderly by family members.  They should be vigilant in identifying suspicious financial activity.  Additionally, professionals working with older adults should advise clients and their families on ways to prevent it from happening.

If financial exploitation is suspected, it’s crucial to report it to the appropriate authorities immediately.  This may include local law enforcement, Adult Protective Services, and regulatory agencies.

Elderly financial abuse by family members is a prevalent form of financial exploitation.  All of us can help prevent it by identifying the signs of financial exploitation, advising elderly individuals and their families on how to prevent it, and reporting any suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities.  In sum, by promoting awareness of financial exploitation, we can help protect vulnerable individuals and organizations from financial harm.