“Mom had money in her account last I looked, but now it is gone! What can I do?”
This is a too common issue for our older population. Financial exploitation can come in many forms, including scams, theft, cons, and so on. It can happen by phone or email, or in person. For example, consider the sales person who offers to paint the house for an outrageous sum, and then does a poor job or simply never shows up. Mom doesn’t want to complain because “he was nice a nice young man!” And, she is embarrassed to ask you for help. Yes, it happens more often than you think, and you don’t have to be incompetent to fall for a scam or a “nice young man”.
But maybe the most common form of financial exploitation (or financial abuse) is when a relative takes money from the elder’s bank accounts. We have had several clients recently for whom this has happened. As a family member, how can you prevent it?
- have her evaluated and found incompetent
- get a formal letter from a doctor that states that
- notify the banks she deals with and anyone else she might work with for financial matters that she has been found incompetent and that you are the proper authority, give them copies of the letter and the FPOA
- Keep an eye on her bank accounts for improper activity
- If she does sign or spend due to another person’s influence, file for the guardianship and press charges or get Adult Protective Services involved as needed.