The despicable actions of those who use a senior’s vulnerability continue to grow. Senior financial abuse scams are a multi‐billion dollar industry. In fact, in a 2011 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the estimated annual financial loss from financial abuse on seniors was nearly $3 million. That figure is based only on those cases reported to law enforcement. Keep reading as we explore ways to safeguard your loved ones from undue influence.
The thefts are staggering from a dollar value, but that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. These numbers do not reflect the sense of betrayal, a loss of trust, indirect costs associated with medical care that’s sometimes needed and the legal considerations that accompany these types of cases. And make no mistake: it affects the entire family, especially when the thief is someone in the family.
What Is Undue Influence?
Undue influence is defined as the “persuasion, pressure, or influence short of actual force, but stronger than mere advice, that so overpowers the dominated party’s free will or judgment that he or she cannot act intelligently and voluntarily, but acts, instead, subject to the will or purposes of the dominating party.”
Who is At Risk of Undue Influence
There are a few factors that can increase the odds of your elder loved ones feeling undue influence:
- Those who live alone are often more vulnerable to fraudsters
- An all-trusting nature – especially if the abuser is known to the senior
- Higher net worth
- Depression and grief
Note that undue influence can be exerted not only with finances, but any senior abuse
Knowing the Signs
Would you know the warning signs of undue influence? Here are a few signs:
- Unusual bank activity
- Missing checks
- Bills that go unpaid (including utilities)
- New people in your loved one’s life who seem to take up much of her time
- Caretakers or even family members who are suddenly interested in “helping” by taking over the finances
Since undue influence involves one person wholly taking advantage of someone unable to defend himself, it’s not surprising that it’s often treated as domestic violence.
If you’re concerned that your loved one may be at risk, there are ways you can protect her through proper estate planning, including powers of attorney that can prevent many financial scams. To learn more, contact our offices today and together, we can help ensure Mom or Dad are protected.
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