Elder Abuse: Misusing Power of Attorney Documents

Unfortunately, financial fraud targeting the aging population are extremely common within the United States.

Some these scams even involve relatives, friends, and family members who steal funds from their elder family member when they receive power of attorney. In a power of attorney scam, the family members who have been granted power will claim they removed funds from the elder individual’s account to protect it and keep the senile victim from spending it. In reality, however, the money is spent elsewhere.

The victims could lose their retirement, family home, and any other funds they need to pay for medical care, assistance, and cost of living.

Older Americans at Risk for Elder Abuse

Older Americans are at high-risk for elder abuse, especially fraud and financial abuse. An older adult may lose some degree of their cognitive abilities and may have difficulty understanding the complexity of their finances. That is why they offer power of attorney to a loved one that they trust to handle their finances for them.

How A Typical Power of Attorney Abuse Case Works

There are numerous ways for loved ones and caretakers to abuse their power of attorney. However, one example is an elderly individual that has no family. Therefore, they give their power of attorney to a distant relative. The distant relative uses that power to take money from bank accounts, drain investment accounts, and so forth.

Sadly, victims assume that their loved ones are doing it to invest or protect their money, not realizing that they have been robbed.

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a written, legal authorization that gives a person the authority to act on another’s behalf. This might include the financial power of attorney, which gives an individual authority to manage all financial aspects of the estate, including bank accounts, mortgages, investments, etc.

When a trustworthy person has power of attorney, it can be a benefit for someone who is cognitively declining too far to manage their finances.

However, when this type of power falls to someone with greedy hands, they can use that power to steal money and assets and leave their loved one without any money. Sometimes, elderly people are in nursing homes where they must depend on others to care for them, so it’s easy for people to take advantage of them.

Taking Action Against Those Abusing their Power

Those who abuse their power with a financial power of attorney can be held accountable for such actions. Under these agreements, there are strict clauses that demand the appropriate behavior from the person granted power.

Some violations include the breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. In this case, an older adult can file a lawsuit against that family member or friend and seek damages — including repayment of all stolen funds, pain, and suffering.

Prevention is Best

The best way to avoid these situations is to always give the financial power of attorney to someone you trust. You may want to hire an attorney to review your power of attorney, screen family members, and ensure you give power to a person who is honest, mature, and more than capable of managing your funds in your best interest. Contact Ethan Vessels to see if you have a case by calling (740) 374-5346 or filling out our contact form.

Is My Loved One Safe in a Nursing Home Facility?

Placing a loved one in a nursing home facility is never an easy decision. Family members can have peace of mind and ensure that their loved one is protected by performing their due diligence.

Even when adult children can no longer care for a family member, they should not feel guilty. There are usually numerous qualified nursing home facilities that provide above-standard care. However, it is important that you continue to look after your loved ones and make sure all is well.

Pay Attention to the Facility

During a consultation and tour, you will receive a sales pitch from staff about what makes their institution great. While it is easy to enjoy all the benefits and the appealing pamphlet, look around and observe what you see. How do the patients in the facility look? Do caretakers seem to enjoy their job? Is there peace and order, or does the staff looked stressed out and disorganized?

The best time to explore a nursing home is after dinner when there are fewer staff members, residents are done eating, and the facility is not expecting a high visitor count.

Make sure there are no persistent odors such as urine or ammonia, or patients who smell as though they have not been bathed.

Look for the Warning Signs

Watch your loved one for the red flags that he or she might be a victim of abuse. These red flags include changes in personality, mood, eating habits, or sleeping. Not all incidents of abuse turn out as bruises or broken bones.

If your loved one is showing signs of anxiety or depression, or he or she seems fearful or lethargic, speak with the on-site manager about your concerns. Also, ask your loved one if they like the facility and if they are happy. Let them know that they should never fear retribution and encourage them to be honest with you.

Keep in Touch

Staying in touch with your loved one, even if it is by phone, can ensure them that you not only care but will give you more opportunity to catch any warning signs of abuse. It is best that you visit your loved one in person as often as possible so that you can see their physical appearance and demeanor.

Know Where to Go When Abuse Occurs

If you notice signs of abuse, go through the proper steps to report the suspected abuse. You will start with the facility’s on-site manager and make sure they are aware of those concerns. A good manager will investigate your claims, examine records, and report back to you with his or her findings.

If the manager does not get back with you or does not provide you with the response or results you would expect, then you can file a formal grievance against the facility. Your concerns should be addressed within a 48-hour window when an official complaint is formed. From there, you can contact the nursing home administrator or the local regulatory agency to report the suspected abuse.

Contact an Attorney

Extended care facilities often have large legal firms protecting them in cases of abuse claims. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to obtain the services of a nursing home abuse attorney. Ethan Vessels is a personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio who can provide counsel for your nursing home case. Contact us today at 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form.

Elder Fraud & Financial Abuse

Financial abuse of the elderly is increasing. Only one in 44 cases of financial abuse are reported. Family members or close friends account for 90% of abusers, which makes the victims reluctant to pursue legal action. Read further to understand ways in which elderly people are exploited and the common scams that are used by professional con artists.

Exploitation by Family Members

Many elderly people have a “Power of Attorney,” which gives financial authority to the person of their choosing. A family member could steal this money for his or her own use or could take advantage of the finances by being the joint owner of a bank account with an elder relative. ATM cards and checks may be used to withdraw money, and cash and valuable items such as jewelry can be stolen.

Exploitation by Home Health Providers

In-home care professionals may charge for services never performed. They may keep change from store purchases and pay their own personal bills with the elder patient’s funds. The worker could even falsify time records and spend work hours to run personal errands.

Scams by Professionals

Seniors are often targeted by professional con artists because of their financial security, trusting nature, home accessibility, and potential memory problems. Older people control about 70% of the nation’s wealth. Professionals know who to target and have become very skilled with their pitch.

Home repair scams. Traveling con men may approach the home, stating they are in the area for a short time and can repair something inexpensively. Also, beware of people saying they are from a utility company. One person may ask for help outside while another teammate goes inside and steals the elderly person’s possessions.

Lottery scams. These will claim that the elderly person has already won, and now, they just need to share their financial information to cover the cost of the associated taxes.

Charity scams. Individuals will ask for donations for a good cause and then pocket the money for themselves.

Investment scams. Unrealistic returns being promised is a warning sign. Anyone who claims to be a financial planner or dealer should be properly licensed.

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Large bank withdrawals or unusual activity
  • Missing possessions
  • Unpaid bills
  • Unusual new friends
  • New names on bank accounts
  • Sudden changes in a will and the beneficiaries
  • Isolation
  • Debt collector calls and/or letters
  • Someone refusing to get the medical care needed for the elderly victim

What to do if you suspect Elder Financial Abuse

If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder financial abuse, there are several ways to report the situation. You could call the local law enforcement and file a report, and/or you could call the local Adult Protective Services.

You should seek legal counsel if you want the wrong-doer to be reprimanded and/or recover what assets were compromised. Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced attorney in Marietta, Ohio, and he is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.