Tips to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse In a Nursing Home

Elder financial abuse happens when the resources of an elder or disabled person are compromised.  As we’ll explore, this often happens in nursing homes or assisted care facilities, but it can also happen as a result of in-home care or even outright theft.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of elder financial abuse, you could be entitled to compensation.

The US National Institute of Health notes that elder abuse is a significant problem, and includes physical abuse, mental abuse, and financial abuse. Whatever form of elder abuse you or your loved one has experienced, it’s essential that you report the abuse.

Then, connect with an elder abuse lawyer to assist you in collecting the full amount of compensation you deserve.

Elder Financial Abuse is a Huge Problem in Illinois

According to the Illinois Department on Aging, from July 2019 to June 2020, the department received 20,800 reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation of elderly and disabled adults.

The majority (6,308) of those reports were for financial exploitation, but that’s just the reported amount. As you can imagine, far more abuse occurs than is reported, but concerned families and diligent attorneys are helping alleviate the problem.

Keep track of your finances and check on your accounts regularly, and if you have a loved one in an assisted care facility or nursing home, do the same for them.

Below, we highlight 5 ways that you can prevent yourself or your loved one from suffering financial exploitation and abuse.

1. Appoint someone you trust for accounts and investments.

When you are facing financial management demands that you would like help with, it is important to appoint someone that you trust. 

We’ll discuss the concept of the “durable power of attorney” below, which is a part of the legal documents you’ll need to appoint someone to assist in the management of your finances.

2. Invoke a durable power of attorney (with added safeguards).

Establishing a durable power of attorney is the same as establishing a financial power of attorney or a springing durable power of attorney. 

A “durable power of attorney” is a legal document that allows an individual, generally an elderly person, to appoint another person to make financial decisions for them. This type of power of attorney is distinct from a medical power of attorney, who is responsible for making medical decisions often related to life-sustaining care.

Your durable power of attorney can be established with additional safeguards, as they are appropriate to your specific situation and preferences. 

The durable power of attorney can be written to provide representation for a single financial transaction like the sale of a home, or for a broad variety of transactions. This can include broader financial management responsibilities like selling stocks, writing checks, depositing Social Security checks, and managing accounts.

3. Set up direct deposit.

A common opportunity where elder financial abuse occurs is in relation to Social Security income checks. Caregivers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as in-home care providers, may have an opportunity to steal Social Security checks if they have access to them. 

While most caregivers are professional and would never steal, by using direct deposit, the risk of theft is reduced.

Your elder abuse attorney can walk you through the process of setting up direct deposit so that you and you alone have direct access to your Social Security and other check-based income.

4. Use a revocable trust.

A trust is a legal instrument that is used to protect your money and your property from third parties trying to gain illegal access. 

When your property is in a revocable living trust, you name a trustee, which is a person who will review transactions before approving them. Trustees are usually fiduciaries who have a duty to put your interests above their own. A revocable trust creates a layer of review prior to your assets in the trust being impacted, which can help to prevent outsiders from gaining access to any of your assets that are of significant value.

5. Use a limited credit card.

Using only a limited credit card will help to minimize the short-term impact of the theft while you are processing your claim. Significant purchases can be made out of the revocable trust, with a limited credit card kept for convenience on smaller purchases. 

Credit cards are incredibly convenient to have and use. Credit cards are also easy to steal, and stores rarely check identification, making it even easier for thieves to take an elderly person’s credit card and use it illegally.

Think you or a loved one might be suffering financial abuse? Call us.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of elder financial abuse, you must report the abuse to any facilities or companies providing care and contact an elder abuse attorney. 

Whatever the source of the financial abuse, you can be entitled to compensation for the losses and potentially other damages.

Elder financial abuse does not have to happen in a nursing home or assisted care facility. It can also include predatory behaviors like using spam email and phone calls to engage in identity theft.

Some of the measures mentioned above can help to prevent elder financial abuse. However, even the most effective measures against elder abuse cannot always protect against it, and that is where your elder abuse lawyer comes into play.

The experienced attorneys from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates are ready to review your case. Call (800) 985-1819 now to schedule your free consultation with a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer.