Protecting Elderly from Financial Abuse
Financial abuse against our elderly is of growing concern, what is worse is that the number of cases is set to rise. In a recent case study, it was recognised that dementia is the most common illness amongst elderly people; reporting that 3 in 30 people over the age of 85 years old suffer from this debilitating condition. Without a medical breakthrough, it is estimated that 900,000 people will suffer from dementia in 2050.
How Does Financial Abuse Occur?
Financial abuse comes in many forms, but on all occasions there is always a vulnerable person and a person who is quick to take advantage.
Financial abuse can range from once only event such as where the bank receives ‘incorrect banking instructions’ or substantial abuse resulting changes in changes to Wills, where elderly people either did not have capacity to make those changes (particularly where the new Will was a home-made Will) or the changes are as a result of fraud or duress.
Forced changes to a Will or other legal documents is perhaps the most common form of financial abuse which has been acted upon by a disappointed beneficiary, but this form of abuse generally only comes to light after the person’s death.
Is it Possible to Prevent Financial Abuse?
In one word, no.
However, it is possible to restrict a predator’s access to his or her elderly victim through ensuring that:
- a Enduring Power of Attorney has been prepared (whilst the adult has capacity) with that document appointing a trusted person/s to act on behalf of the adult during the period of his or her incapacity; and,
- ensuring that any amendments to an existing Will are prepared by a solicitor.