Warning Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

America’s vulnerable, graying population, and the concentration of wealth among older adults, has created a massive opportunity for fraud. Hard statistics are not available, but experts suspect that perhaps half a million elderly adults are ripped off by family members, lawyers and accountants every year, potentially taking $2.6 billion from infirm older Americans. The crime is known as elder financial abuse.

An ugly reality: financial abuse of the elderly

Heartbreaking stories like this are way too commonplace. We have had our share of similar, well-publicized problems in Hawaii. A primary mode of elder financial abuse is by the misuse of durable powers of attorney. Powers of attorney can be helpful tools, but they must be carefully managed and maintained, and they must be judiciously granted. It pays to have checks and balances, as well as systems of accountability, in place.