Financial abuse, while different than physical abuse, still takes a tremendous toll on a person, especially an elderly person. The elderly are frequent targets of financial abuse because they have more assets and may struggle with certain issues — dependency on caregivers, for instance, or mental diseases — that make it easier to take advantage of them.
The unfortunate reality is that financial abuse often comes from people who are close to the elderly individual: caregivers, trusted friends, and family members. These are the people who should take the best care of that person when they need it most, but they are also in a unique position to take advantage of them, and many do so.
For instance, perhaps you have a younger sibling. While you are financially stable and have a successful career, they do not. They struggle with drug problems, they never get married and they can’t hold down a job. Eventually, they wind up moving back in with your parents because they cannot take care of themselves.
At this point, they start exploiting your parents for more than just free rent. Maybe they force your parents to buy them things like computers, televisions and cars. Maybe they directly steal money out of a wallet or even a bank account. Maybe they manipulate your parents into giving them more money in the estate plan, or they do what they can to take money in advance so that there is less left to get divided in the estate plan when your parents pass away.
No matter how they do it, they financially take advantage of your parents. They do this at your expense, as well. Any money removed from the estate for frivolous purchases or to support that drug habit is money that you lose. An estate plan that gets altered to take money away from you and give it to your sibling is perhaps not in line with what your parents actually wanted.
How it happens
Changes to an estate plan happen in numerous ways. It could be direct fraud, where your sibling creates a fake will. It could be deceit, where they trick your parents into signing an altered will or making other changes. And it could happen through manipulation. If your parents need assistance in their old age, your sibling could threaten to withhold it if they don’t make those changes.
These are just a few examples, but it’s a serious issue when it comes up. Make sure you know all of the legal rights you have and what steps you can take to make things right.