What is elder abuse and exploitation?
Florida’s climate and benefits make it the perfect state to retire. Despite the safeguard in place to prevent fraud and elder abuse, it is still prevalent and widespread. The elderly are rarely exploited by a stranger, it is usually (unfortunately) a loved one or a care-taker that has gained the trust of that elderly person. There are several issues that are red flags and one should look for if they feel a loved one may be exploited.
Once elderly people become to old to write or get themselves to the bank, they add someone on their personal accounts to manage their finances. While this is very convenient, it allows for someone to start using that elderly person’s money for his or her own benefit. When deciding to put someone on your bank account or execute a durable power of attorney, it is important to keep in mind you are consenting to that person having access to all of your finances. If they wanted to clear out your bank account and leave you with nothing they are authorized, by you, to do so.
The elderly often times have limited income and are easily approved for section 8, or low-income housing. There are many cases of caretakers who live with these elderly people just to take advantage of their section 8 approval. These same caretakers do not even take care of the elderly people. They exploit them for their low-income housing or even their social security check from the government.
Another red flag is a sudden change or rush to prepare Estate Planning documents. There are people who feel appreciative of that certain son/daughter that goes above the rest to care for their parents or a caretaker that takes the place of children. More often than not, elderly people are being coerced into executed Estate Planning documents to benefit a single person and disinherit those who would traditionally be the heirs of someone’s estate.
So what can you do to protect yourself or your loved one? The ideal situation would be to have a close knit family where everyone gets along and works together to take care of their parents or elderly relatives. Sadly, that is not typically the reality. The legal remedies would be to make sure you go to an Estate Planning attorney to address all the needs of the elderly person and ensure the documents are properly executed so they are valid in a court of law. An experienced Estate Planning attorney will know exactly what needs to be done to validate those documents. If an elderly person has executed a durable power of attorney and is being exploited because of it a guardianship proceeding can help to investigate whether those documents were executed under duress or coercion and be invalidated by a court.