According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), elder financial abuse is on the rise. The Bureau says that suspicious activity reports involving elder financial abuse increased by a factor of four from 2013 through 2017. For California residents with elderly family members, this increase is a significant cause for alarm.
Senior citizens are ideal targets for financial abuse, especially if they insist on remaining in charge of their finances. Unfortunately, their family members often do not recognize potential abuse until the damage has already occurred. However, you can help keep your loved one's finances safe from such abuse while preserving the independence your loved ones deserve.
- Ease into discussions about your elder's finances slowly. If you appear to completely take over their financial responsibilities, you may encounter resistance. Some people request financial advice from their elders as a way to get these discussions started.
- Suggest to your elders that it would make you feel better if they put certain legal documents in place. Examples of such documents include powers of attorney, wills and/or trusts and health care directives. If your elders realize that your concern is real, they may be more open to taking these steps.
- Explain how streamlining their finances can help your elders keep an accurate track of how their money is used. Making money management as simple as possible helps your elders or you identify unusual transactions. Simplification will likely free up at least some of the time normally spent on bookkeeping, enabling your elders to engage in more enjoyable activities instead.
Preventing elder financial abuse before it can occur is the best way to protect your parents. You can get advice on these and other elder issues by speaking with an attorney. A lawyer can also help if your loved one has already suffered from financial mistreatment.