The elderly among us are vulnerable. They are easy marks for those who would take advantage of that vulnerability, especially when it comes to their finances. Surprisingly, the abusers are commonly include those who are closely-related to them.
Just how prevalent is elder financial abuse?
According to a new study reported in a recent Forbes article titled “Why Elder Financial Abuse Is Such A Slippery Crime,” financial elder abuse costs $36.5 billion annually. That is more than 12 times the figures MetLife has published in the past few years. In addition, the problem may be even greater, too.
It is well accepted that much of elder financial abuse goes unreported, oftentimes due to the shame and embarrassment of the victims themselves. In fact, a New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study reports that only one in 44 cases is reported.
Curiously, each type of abuse seems tied to a different age spectrum. For example, younger folks fall prey to work from home scams, dating scams, weight loss scams, and most Internet scams, while investment scams target those beginning their retirement years around age 65, and finally thefts by family members occur later on.
While attempting to determine the extent of financial elder abuse is difficult, curbing it is even tougher.
Further, many caregivers, family members, financial services employees, and police officers simply are not trained in preventing, detecting or dealing with financial exploitation of the elderly.
Add to this a lack of coordination between agencies and professionals, and you can see the scope of the issue.
The federal government is getting more involved.
Take the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its first "Investor Advocate" says one of his agency’s priorities is to give financial service professionals more effective tools to protect clients whenever an adviser or registered representative suspects financial or other abuse of a vulnerable client.
If you suspect that a senior you know may be the victim of some form of elder abuse, contact local law enforcement without delay!
[Sidebar: Thank you for following the "Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning" blog. Hard to believe this is blog post #1,200. I appreciate your kind emails and great ideas!]
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Forbes (February 13, 2015) “Why Elder Financial Abuse Is Such A Slippery Crime”