As the elderly population jumps, family members and loved ones become increasingly involved in their seniors’ daily money management.
That means managing bank accounts, setting budgets, paying bills, and maintaining transparency among all parties—especially the senior. Yet, the systems caregivers create—often haphazard, due to other obligations—can lead to distrust, “bad blood,” and allegations of abuse and theft.
Moreover, actual financial abuse and theft of seniors is rapidly growing, and it’s easy to see why: The elderly control 70% of the money in the economy, making them prime targets for financial abuse. Another sobering statistic:
34% of those exploited are taken advantage of
by family members and trusted others.
Just as importantly…
If you’re a caregiver managing your senior loved one’s finances,
are you well versed in all the complex legalities
surrounding money management?
Failure to follow the laws to the letter, even if done innocently, can, at best, lead to accusations of wrongdoing, or at worst, to prosecution for mismanagement.
Is it worth the risk
or the aggravation?
Let FCFS handle the daily management of your senior loved one’s finances, while providing ongoing vigilance against possible fraud, abuse and exploitation.
And remember: FCFS never gets access to your loved one’s bank accounts or passwords, and never has the power to initiate transfers or withdrawals.
SIGNS OF ABUSE
Is one of your elderly loved ones at risk for financial abuse?
Are you a friend or neighbor who suspects an elder is being exploited, but you’re not sure what to do about it?
How do you know? And when should you report it to
Adult Protective Services?
No one wants to think they, their older loved ones, or an elderly friend will be exploited by family or friends. But it happens—a LOT. According to the Department of Justice:
$2.9 billion is stolen from the elderly annually.
“Trusted” friends, family and caretakers—along with the professionals that manage their assets—are far more likely to be the perpetrators of financial abuse than strangers, and often through scenarios like these.
Consider this: While government agencies spend plenty protecting seniors from vendors, contractors, and telemarketers, there’s no focus on protecting them from their own families and friends.
Elder abuse is not always easy to spot, but the key is to look for unusual patterns of behavior, physical symptoms, or other telltale signs that, together, point to likely abuse, neglect or exploitation of an elder.
Be especially vigilant over seniors in the following circumstances:
When elders have memory problems (i.e., dementia) or are physically dependent on others.
When elders are depressed, lonely, or lack social support.
Caregiver feeling stressed and overwhelmed; has a history of substance abuse or abusing others; or has a high emotional or financial dependence on the elder.
When the elder has given Power of Attorney for financial and/or medical business to a relative
or trusted friend.
When the elder has opened joint bank account(s) with family or friends, unbeknownst to
other family members.
When a caregiver’s expenses are not being met, but the elder has sufficient income to
Tell Us Your Story
Larry W. (NY)
Although this happened years ago—my parents are both deceased now—at the time, it was unbelievable, and my relationship with my siblings will never be the same.
My eldest brother, Sam, was a successful lawyer with a family living in Connecticut. I was a teacher who’d made some smart investments and I have a good pension. My youngest brother, Joel, however, never quite found his niche and was always looking for that “next great deal.” He lived closest to my parents—and sometimes with them, when money was tight.
When my mother passed, we encouraged Joel to live with Dad to keep him company and help out around the house. It seemed like an ideal fit. My brother Sam and I would call at least once a week to talk to Dad and he would call us as well to catch up, check on the grandkids, etc. We were also excited to hear Joel had a new girlfriend and they were talking marriage.
At some point, both Sam and I started to notice that Dad’s calls were becoming less and less frequent. Sometimes, when we called he would get off the phone quickly, and other times, Joel would say Dad didn’t feel up to talking or that he wasn’t home at all. As the months went on, Sam and I became increasingly concerned that Dad wasn’t doing well, but Joel insisted he was doing great.
Sam and I happened to both be in NY at the same time (he was on business, I was visiting friends), and decided to surprise Dad and Joel. The surprise was on us. The house was disgusting and it looked like Dad hadn’t showered in weeks. We were dumbfounded. And, where was Joel?
Well, Joel was with his new girlfriend, who we found out, after talking to Dad, was starting a new business. Turns out Joel “borrowed” $55,000 from Dad’s account—unbeknownst to Dad—to bankroll her startup.
It got worse: Joel had talked Dad into signing a quitclaim to turn the house over to Joel and his new girlfriend. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the most horrific part was that Joel had apparently told my dad that my brother and I weren’t calling anymore to talk to him and that we didn't love him anymore. Furthermore, he’d told Dad, Joel was the only one he could trust and the only one who would take care of him, but only if he signed things over to Joel or gave him money.
How do parents raise three children exactly the same, yet one turns out like that? Keep your family safe and watch out for “Joels,” which, sadly, can be in your own family.
P.S. Joel’s girlfriend left him after her new business went belly up, and Joel is on his own.
Tell Us Your Story
Susan N. (NJ)
When my brother became ill, I went to his home in Connecticut with my grown daughter. When we arrived, we knocked and knocked, and when he finally answered, I asked him, “Do you know who I am?” And he replied, “Yeah, you’re my sister, Sally.” Soon, the doctors started coming in and told us he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
There was a pile of bills, checks and paperwork on his kitchen table. We took all the checks and deposited them into his account and took the bills with us. After we made the deposit, the bank teller handed the receipts to my daughter and we left.
When we got back to New Jersey, we opened a joint checking account for my brother and I. It was for anything pertaining to my brother: doctor bills, medical bills, and hospital bills. My daughter was helping with all the appointments and staying with him when I couldn’t. I was so pleased.
As time went by, she said to me, “Mom, you’d better put my name on the checkbook because if I take him to the doctor’s, then I gotta have a check.” She’s my daughter, she’d been such a big help, so of course, I agreed. Then she added, “I have another thought: Instead of the checks, get me a debit card. That way, I don’t have to bother you at all.”
The next thing I knew, my daughter and her husband were using that debit card every place they went. In the end, they spent $93,000 of my brother’s money.
Now I have to bring legal action against my own daughter and her husband to get the money back. This is my child; how can this have happened?
SIGNS OF ABUSE
The National Adult Protective Services Association can help you determine if your friend or loved one needs help or, in more extreme cases, if their situation needs to be reported to adult protective services.
The Department of Justice is also an excellent resource for learning about and getting help for financial exploitation. www.Justice.gov