I recently wrote here about some of the tools available to Florida probate attorneys involved in cases where the decedent is alleged to have been the victim of financial elder abuse/exploitation. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article entitled Intimate Betrayal: When the Elderly Are Robbed by Their Family Members, that underscores the comments I made regarding how prevalent this problem is. Here is an excerpt from the linked-to story:
Note to retirees: Beware the family.
Financial swindles are one of the fastest-growing forms of elder abuse. By some estimates, as many as five million senior citizens are victimized each year, says Sara Aravanis, director of the nonprofit National Center on Elder Abuse, which provides information to federal and state policy makers. Because of the problem’s spread, "many states have laws authorizing financial institutions to report suspicions of elderly abuse," says Bruce Jay Baker, general counsel for the Illinois Bankers Association. Earlier this summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission hosted a Seniors Summit to highlight the issue, with SEC Chairman Christopher Cox noting that protecting seniors’ pocketbooks "is one of the most important issues of our time."
Yet it’s not dodgy financial experts or crooked caregivers who are the biggest threat. It’s family. Children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and even spouses are the people most likely to rob the elderly, according to elder-law advocates and attorneys. The data that exist — albeit in a spotty manner — suggest that financial crimes rank as the third-most prevalent abuse of the elderly.