Elder Abuse and Exploitation Examples

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Elder Law

90016895_c7396aa63f_oElder abuse is a terrible societal crime that SmithLaw hates to see in our society. Thus, we are dedicated to helping the elderly who are victims of abuse and exploitation. This is in addition to other areas of our practice that relate to the elderly. These other areas of the law include:

  • Probate
  • Guardianship
  • Estate Planning

We try to work with clients before elder exploitation can begin, particularly setting up instruments like powers of attorney, health care surrogacies, and other paperwork that can be used in case of incapacitation or illness. These documents allow you to choose who you want to take care of you if you can no longer take care of yourself. It can be a great comfort knowing that you have chosen the best arrangements for yourself in advance of a catastrophic event.

Trusts are a way to protect yourself from financial distress. A trust creates financial arrangements for you and your property when you are fully in control of the situation, and can make your best choices. Having a trust in place make it more difficult for you to be pressured into something you don’t really want for yourself and your assets.

While you are making your end-of-life decisions, setting up a will now is helpful in making the choices for your relatives the way you want to…not the court. A will can also deter elder exploitation.  You would not be at the mercy of those taking care of you if your end-of-life decisions are in place and an attorney has them on record.

Investing in insurance policies can also be a good decision. A long-term care policy would certainly help assure you have the care you need at the end stages of life. You could also choose disability policies that would provide for you financially, should you need them.

All of these good financial decisions are helpful in preventing elder exploitation and abuse. Why? Because you have made the decisions yourself, when you were at a good point in your life, and when others didn’t necessarily influence you. Good legal counsel and financial advisors are important aspects of these decisions, so make sure you find the proper guidance.

Nevertheless, please keep in mind that those who plan can still fall prey to elder exploitation and abuse. Sadly, those who you felt were the best caretakers for you could change in temperament over time. Alternatively, those caretakers may become unavailable and you are left with less than desirable caretakers. Or maybe the money dries up and you can’t afford all the long-term plans. That is why it is important to be aware what elder abuse and exploitation looks like for yourself and others in your life.

Some examples of elder exploitation and abuse include:

  • Undue influence of others on decisions for wills
  • Stealing assets, including property and money
  • Lack of proper medical care and inattention to illness or injury
  • Neglect
  • Poor hygiene
  • Isolation from others and lack of social interaction
  • Not providing for elderly loved ones using the directions and arrangements they set forth, and instead using the elder’s assets for the wrong people and reasons
  • Verbal and physical abuse

Of course, family relations are complicated. It’s hard to tell when someone is just being a little un-protective or rude and when he or she is being outright abusive. Thus, concerned family and friends can create a guardianship in an effort to protect the elderly from exploitation or abuse. Guardianship is meant to put proper care and decisions in the hands of those who have at heart the best interests of the elderly family member.

Because guardianship can be exploited, too, it is governed by the court and can be reduced or nullified if found to be an inappropriate arrangement for the elderly.

Elder abuse and exploitation can be reported to authorities in Florida. This link to the Department of Elder Affairs tells you more.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

Image: Some rights reserved by Diego3336

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