Financial abuse of an elder (age 65 and older) or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following: (1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult to a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both; and/or (2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult to a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both. Examples of taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining the real or personal property are when a caregiver forges a check to him/herself from the elder’s account, or a sibling misappropriates the inheritance of his disabled adult sibling.
Elder financial abuse is a crime that is committed behind closed doors, often by Trustees, Personal Representatives or family members. Changes in cognitive abilities, coupled with the fear of outliving resources, make seniors prime targets for financial abuse. Seniors with mild cognitive impairment but who are capable of performing the necessary activities of daily living to remain “independent” in the community are particularly vulnerable to being victimized. Those having trouble with their critical thinking skills can become confused and easily manipulated when it comes to managing their property, personal finances, and estates.
The law provides separate remedies for financial exploitation and undue influence of an elder by a Trustee or Personal Representative.