The MetLife Mature Market Institute took the time to probe the issue of elder financial abuse, and they have found that annual losses are somewhere in the vicinity of $2.9 billion.
It is actually quite difficult to determine the length and breadth of this problem because of the fact that it is not out in the open. People tend to keep their financial affairs private, and this plays into the hands of predators.
Senior citizens often need help with their day-to-day needs, and as a result people gain access to their sensitive information. This can open the door to those who would be looking for a way to take advantage of the senior in question for their own financial gain.
Some of the people with this access are family members, and this is very sad indeed. There was a conviction in New York a few years ago in an elder financial abuse case of note. Anthony Marshall, the son of Brooke Astor, was found guilty of grand larceny.
He appealed the case, which involved the theft of millions of dollars, but the conviction was recently upheld.
Of course, not every case of elder financial abuse involves someone that the victim knows personally. Elder Americans can be targeted by scam artists and people who make a living by stealing the identities of others.
If you’re concerned, as well you should be, you have recourse. It is possible to take legal and other steps to limit your exposure to this form of abuse. Schedule an appointment with a qualified estate planning/elder law attorney, and check with your CPA, to limit your exposure to financial abuse.