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What is Financial Abuse of the Elderly: Everything You Need to Know

April 4, 2024 Alan Ahdoot
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As our loved ones age, they become more and more vulnerable to various forms of exploitation. From emotional manipulation to neglect, there are hundreds of risks that they may face, with financial exploitation being one of the biggest problems among the elderly. But, what are the causes of elder financial abuse? Can an elder financial abuse attorney help victims?

One of the most prevalent yet often overlooked threats they face is financial abuse of the elderly. 

These crimes are increasing at an alarming rate, but most of them go unnoticed. With this in mind, we must learn how to recognize and report elder abuse

In this blog, we’ll discuss what financial abuse of the elderly is and how you can recognize its signs. We’ll also explore how you can properly report financial exploitation. 

Read on to learn how to protect your senior loved ones.

What is Financial Abuse of The Elderly?

Financial abuse of the elderly is the unauthorized and unethical exploitation of an older adult’s finances.

As people age, it becomes difficult for them to handle their assets properly. This is especially true for those suffering from severe conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This leaves older individuals vulnerable to abuse and manipulation by those who want to take advantage of their diminished mental capacity for personal gain.

Financial abuse of the elderly can take many forms, including but not limited to:


While it’s true that everyone is at risk, older people are at a higher risk due to their physical or mental incapacity. 

Fraud and Scams

Fraud and scams are the most common form of financial elder abuse. In fact, statistics show that in 2022 alone, people aged 60 and above filed around 88,263 fraud complaints. 

In addition, 65% of these recorded complaints involve government impersonation, sweepstakes scams, and robocall scams. 

Pressure, Threats, and Intimidation

This form of financial elder abuse typically happens when a person forces an older adult to sign over asset ownership or change the beneficiaries of a will. 

Abusing Power of Attorney 

A “power of attorney” is a legal authorization that gives a designated person control over the principal’s assets and allows them to make financial decisions on their behalf. 

Abuse happens when the designated person uses their power for their benefit. Examples of this include misappropriating funds and selling properties without their consent. 

Inheritance Impatience 

Inheritance impatience happens when a beneficiary tries to take an aging relative’s assets from them before their passing. 

Who Commits Financial Elder Abuse?

Although most people think that strangers are more likely to become perpetrators of financial elder abuse, the NCEA says that 53% of reported cases of financial elder abuse are committed by the victim’s adult children or spouses. 

But aside from immediate family members, the other parties that could commit financial elder abuse include:

  • Financial planners
  • Caregivers and nursing home staff
  • Con artists and fraudsters

The consequences of financial elder abuse can be long-term. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), most victims of financial exploitation suffer from depression and anxiety after losing their life savings. 

So, that being said, it’s vital you know how to recognize the signs of financial elder abuse. 

A senior and an elder financial abuse attorney person using a laptop.
53% of reported financial elder abuse cases are committed by the victim’s family members.

Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

Learning how to recognize the signs of financial elder abuse is the key to preventing it. It would be best to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Unexplained large withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts.
  • Missing belongings or properties.
  • Sudden changes in spending habits or living conditions.
  • Unpaid bills or utilities.
  • Suspicious changes to wills, trusts, or other legal documents.
  • Eviction notices.

If you’ve spotted one or two of these warning signs in an aging relative, you must immediately report it to the authorities. 

Reporting Elder Financial Abuse in California

If you suspect that your elderly relative is suffering from financial abuse, you can report the case to your local Adult Protective Services (APS). 

APS protects vulnerable adults from financial exploitation and other similar forms of abuse. Once you file a report, a member of your local APS will conduct an investigation and offer assistance if needed. 

Aside from the APS, you can also report potential cases to your local law enforcement agency. 

If you work in a bank or other similar financial institution, you can use the form SOC 341 to report what you suspect is an elder financial abuse case. 

California’s Statute of Limitations for Financial Elder Abuse

California’s statute of limitations for elder abuse is four years from when the abuse was discovered. However, there are certain exceptions to this timeframe, such as:

  • If a court deems the aging victim mentally incompetent, therefore impacts their ability to discover or report financial elder abuse. 
  • If the victim passes away within six months of the end of the limitation period, their loved ones have six months from their passing to file a case on their behalf.
  • If the victim is in prison, the four-year clock will be paused and will only start again two years after their release. 
  • If the defendant leaves the state, the clock will be paused until they return to California.

Who Can File A Financial Elder Abuse Case in California?

According to California laws, only the following individuals are allowed to file a financial elder abuse lawsuit on behalf of a victim:

  • Spouse of the abuse victim.
  • Family members of the abuse victim.
  • Heirs of the abuse victim.

Proving Financial Elder Abuse

Proving financial elder abuse can be difficult. However, there are certain pieces of evidence that you can use to strengthen your claim. This includes: 

  • Financial records such as bank statements, receipts, and credit reports.
  • Testimonies from witnesses or family members that reported financial elder abuse.
  • Altered legal documents like power of attorney agreements or wills. 

Hire A Financial Elder Abuse Attorney Today

Recognizing the signs and reporting financial elder abuse is crucial for protecting the rights of our elderly population. 

If you need help filing a financial elder abuse claim on behalf of a loved one, Adamson Ahdoot is here to assist you. 

Adamson Ahdoot is a premier civil litigation firm located in Los Angeles. Our best financial elder abuse attorney will guide you through the entire litigation process, from filing your lawsuit to trial. 

To learn more about our services, Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with our legal counsel. 

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