Part two: Understanding the signs of financial elder abuse and what to do

This blog recently discussed some of the signs of financial elder abuse, as well as the circumstances that can lead to such exploitation. Below, we will address some possible steps to take after discovering or suspecting a loved one is a victim of financial abuse.

Steps to take after suspecting financial abuse

Suspecting elder financial abuse can put a lot of people in difficult positions. Many times, the perpetrator is a family member or caregiver. In other cases, you may be required by law to report financial abuse as a mandated reporter. In California, mandated reporters include anyone who is responsible for the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, regardless of whether they are compensated for their care or services.

Whether you are a family member or a concerned professional, if you suspect an elderly person is being financially taken advantage of, you can take the following steps:

  • Calling 911 and filing a police report, especially if someone is in immediate danger
  • Contacting the appropriate county’s Adult Protective Services (APS) agency
  • Contacting an attorney experienced in recovering damages in cases of financial elder abuse

In many cases, financial abuse or exploitation of an elderly person may be a crime. However, even if law enforcement or prosecutors have declined to pursue a criminal case against the perpetrator, it may be possible to pursue a civil financial elder abuse claim. Through a civil claim, an attorney can seek damages, including punitive damages, to account for the harm suffered by the elderly individual, their loved ones or both.

Each case is different

Each financial elder abuse case is different and will require a different course of action. Discussing your unique situation with an attorney can be the best way to learn your options and potentially hold perpetrators accountable.