The charity Action on Elder Abuse has recently produced a booklet which is free to download from their website. It summarises the various forms of this type of abuse and lists warning signs of which everyone should be aware.
The booklet makes interesting reading. It identifies signs of financial abuse, some of which may seem relatively innocent such as the inclusion of additional names on an older person’s bank account; or a recent change to, or writing a new, Will. Both of these actions may well have an innocent explanation; but the charity encourages those who are involved with older people to be alert to the possibility that another person is seeking a financial gain at the older person’s expense.
Another sign of potential financial abuse is when on-line accounts are set up for an older person or affairs are conducted on their behalf via the Internet. If the older person does not have a computer, then they will have no control over what might be actioned on their behalf. If an attorney is operating an online account without reference to the donor’s wishes, they are unlikely to be executing their attorney duties correctly.
As the charity point out, financial abuse can be prevented and taking action at an early stage can assist in making you more secure. Such steps include:-
Unfortunately, at Barrett & Co., we have dealt and are dealing with many cases where a family member or even an attorney has abused the trust which an older person had placed in them. We, therefore, urge all our readers to ensure, by making Lasting Powers of Attorney for financial matters and choosing people whom they can absolutely trust to represent them, that their affairs are protected; and to raise an alert if you suspect that anyone close to you is suffering financial abuse.
In her second article in the series, also published this month, Hilary looks at the steps can be taken to protect elderly or vulnerable clients when they have already lost capacity and a Power of Attorney is not in place.