How To Prevent Being Charged With Financial Elder Abuse


If you are watching over or taking care of an parent, it is important for your financial affairs to not become enmeshed to the point where you could be accused of financial elder abuse by relatives or others. This type of abuse can result in both civil and criminal liability. There are a number of areas where you can receive help and avoid problems.

Assuring Self-Sufficiency For Yourself and Your Parent

As far as it depends on you, you should show evidence of self-sufficiency. Living primarily on a parent's resources can make you appear to be a moocher to others. Perhaps you could look into a form of self employment or working part-time while helping the elderly one.

Before a senior's health and mental capabilities deteriorate very much, it would be good to encourage and assist a parent to consult a lawyer about  protecting  their assets and stretching them out to cover many years of living in retirement.

If they can cash out or sell an asset, or if they have significant cash in the bank, the proceeds could be put in a trust that makes monthly payments to a designated beneficiary for a parent's expenses and needs. That way, even if you can no longer be a caregiver, you can make sure your parent will be benefiting from their money regularly and won't be a target for someone who could go through their assets quickly.

Taking Advantage of Government Programs To Make it When Needed

If you are doing fulltime caretaking you may be able to get an SSI or Medicaid payment for yourself. In most states your parent may be eligible for government benefits such as SNAP (food assistance) benefits, veteran's benefits, and more.

Keeping Complete Records of Financial Transactions

As you care for the person, keep good and complete records of all financial transactions to show your transparency and good sense, and to avoid accusations of fraud or thievery.

For example, it could be that you need a car to take your parent to doctor appointments and other places.  If your parent agrees to buy one, or money to buy one is taken from their assets, think about what you are buying. It's one thing to buy a modest, serviceable car that the elder can get in or out of easily, and another to buy an expensive sports car that is obviously for a different purpose.

Making Sure the Parent is Showing Evidence of Your Good Care

Red flags to others that an elder is abused and being taken advantage of include:

  • The person is unclean, smells bad, and their clothing is in tatters.
  • The person is being isolated and perhaps terrified to go out of the residence.
  • They are thin and malnourished.
  • They seem drugged and out of it most of the time.
  • They have bruises and other evidence of physical abuse.

You may be working hard to take care of your parent and have perfectly good explanations for these things. If your parent is having trouble getting around and falling a lot, it could result in bruising. Due to dementia they may:

  • become combative when you want to help them bathe or groom them.
  • insist on wearing dirty old clothes.
  • get lost if they leave the home without you.
  • have little appetite.

If you are having trouble coping, you need to get some support and take breaks to avoid frustration or impatience.

If,  even with your best efforts, your parent is getting hurt or is unwell, you will need assistance. If you talk to their doctor, there may be medications they can prescribe to help the parent be easier to deal with, or to treat their anxiety. If they are lethargic and dull, they may be receiving too much medication, and these may need to be adjusted. The doctor will also have some ideas about how the senior can get adequate nutrition, if they have lost interest in eating.

Facing Accusations and Criminal Charges

If you are ever accused of abuse,  fraud, or thievery, you will need to consult with a criminal defense lawyer. Contact a local attorney, like, with your questions.


20 May 2015

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