an elder man being a victim to financial elder abuse fraud in bradenton & sarasota florida.
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By Brice Van Elswyk
Founding Attorney

Financial elder abuse represents a significant challenge, impacting numerous seniors in Florida and elsewhere. This type of exploitation undermines financial security and dignity, inflicting lasting emotional and financial damage on vulnerable individuals. Recognizing the signs of abuse, understanding the legal protections in place, and exploring preventive measures are important steps in ensuring that our elders are treated with the respect and safety they rightfully deserve.

Understanding Financial Elder Abuse

Financial elder abuse involves the improper or illegal use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. This can range from unauthorized taking of money or property to scamming or coercion into giving away resources or changing a will. Older adults are particularly at risk due to factors like isolation, cognitive decline, or dependence on others for care. The abuse can be perpetrated by strangers, acquaintances, and, sadly, even family members. Understanding this abuse means recognizing its many forms—whether it’s through deceptive scams, misuse of authority, or outright theft. Awareness and education are key in preventing such exploitation to ensure seniors can live without the threat of financial predation.

Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

  • Sudden Changes in Financial Situation: If an elder suddenly appears to be struggling financially, lacks funds for everyday expenses, or shows unexplained depletion of their assets, it could be a sign of financial abuse. These changes often occur without a clear explanation or justification.
  • Unusual Bank Account Activity: Look for frequent, large withdrawals, unfamiliar transactions, or changes in banking practices. Unexplained transfers or withdrawals, especially if the senior cannot explain them, may indicate abuse.
  • Changes in Estate Planning Documents: Sudden alterations in wills, powers of attorney, or beneficiary designations, especially if made under questionable circumstances, can be a red flag. Be wary if these changes favor one person, particularly someone newly close to the elder.
  • Reluctance to Discuss Finances: If an older adult becomes evasive or anxious when discussing financial matters or suddenly has a new “friend” or caregiver who is overly involved in their finances, it may suggest manipulation or abuse.
  • Unpaid Bills and New Debts: Discovering unpaid bills, eviction notices, or services being cut off despite adequate resources, or new debts appearing without explanation, can be indicators of financial resources being misdirected.

Legal Protections Against Financial Elder Abuse in Florida

In Florida, a robust legal framework offers protection against financial elder abuse, making sure seniors have avenues for justice and recourse. The state’s laws are designed to both prevent exploitation and penalize perpetrators. This includes criminal statutes that address theft, fraud, and exploitation directly, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment. Additionally, civil remedies can help recover stolen assets. Florida’s Adult Protective Services Act mandates reporting of suspected abuse, encouraging the prompt initiation of investigations. Guardianship laws also play an important role and provide a system to manage an elder’s financial affairs when they cannot do so themselves, with strict oversight to prevent abuse. These legal measures, combined with vigilant enforcement, form a comprehensive shield for Florida’s elderly population.

Preventing Financial Elder Abuse

Preventing financial elder abuse involves a combination of vigilance, education, and practical steps. Educating seniors and their families about common scams and exploitation tactics is crucial. Encouraging regular, open discussions about finances and any changes in financial management can help detect issues early. It’s also important to make sure that legal documents like wills and powers of attorney are up-to-date and reflect the elder’s wishes. Utilizing reputable financial management services and having checks and balances in place for those with access to an elder’s finances can significantly reduce the risk of abuse.

Contact Our Experienced Bradenton & Sarasota Financial Elder Abuse Attorney

Van Elswyk Law can support victims of financial elder abuse with comprehensive legal services. We offer personalized guidance, robust representation, and a commitment to securing justice. If you or a loved one has been affected, reach out to us. Together, we can take the necessary steps towards protection and recovery.

About the Author
Brice Van Elswyk started his professional career as an investment banker in 1998. Over the next 14 years, Brice worked for several international investment banks, eventually specializing in structured products with complex tax, accounting, and regulatory capital constraints.While at the State Attorney’s Office, Brice prosecuted crimes ranging from misdemeanors such as DUI’s and domestic batteries, all the way to homicide, drug trafficking and sex crimes. Most recently, Brice was a specialty prosecutor focusing on capital sex crimes and crimes against children. Now, Brice combines his vast knowledge of finance, and his extensive experience as a trial attorney to serve clients in both criminal defense and civil matters.