When your loved one lives in a nursing home, they have contact with a wide range of people: physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, activity aids, nutrition professionals, facility administrators, other residents, guests, and many more. Any of these individuals can perpetrate some form of abuse since they have regular access to your loved one. One type of abuse is financial. Over time, an individual could manipulate your relative for their own financial gain. That person’s manipulation can lead your loved one to giving them money, personal property, and real estate. In some financially abusive situations, elderly individuals lose a great deal of their savings.
Financial abuse in nursing homes is a pervasive problem, and if you notice any warning signs of it, you should contact a lawyer at Studinski Law, LLC as soon as possible. Contact us today at (715) 343-2850 to schedule a free, initial case consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Financial Abuse Comes in Many Forms
People use all manner of tactics to unlawfully obtain money and property from elderly individuals, particularly those who have memory issues, are lonely, have difficulty managing their finances, and are cut off from resources outside of the nursing home. Many elderly individuals are extremely vulnerable to abuse because they are not as physically or mentally capable of taking care of their money as they once were. For some, their emotional need for companionship can easily be taken advantage of. Perpetrators are also likely to be more sophisticated in modern financial and legal issues.
Because of these variables, financial abuse comes in many forms, including:
- Theft – Individuals with access to your relatives’ belongings, financial information, check book, and/or credit and debit cards may steal money or property from them.
- Fraud – Individuals may use lies and misrepresentation to convince your loved one to hand over money and property. The individual may manipulate your loved one into gifting them money or property, or the individual may make your loved one believe they are paying necessary fees.
- Extortion/Bribery – Someone may threaten your loved one with harm, or they may withhold care if your relative does not give them money or property.
- Fraudulent Power of Attorney – A person may convince your loved one to give them power of attorney of your relative’s finances, which the person can then use to unlawfully take money and property for themselves.
- False Companionship – Someone may intentionally become close to your relative and act as a surrogate son or daughter. They may then use this relationship to ask for gifts or financial help.
- Identity Theft – Individuals may steal your loved one’s personal information, including their Social Security number, to take out credit cards and buy property in your relative’s name.
- Grandparent Scams – Individuals may pretend to be an elderly resident’s grandchild who needs money quickly. These individuals usually know family member’s names and other details to sound convincing.
- Charity Scams – Individuals will pose as representatives of charities, nonprofits, or religious institutions seeking donations. This is common after natural disasters or community tragedies.
- Lottery/Sweepstakes/Contest Scams – Individuals may claim the elderly resident won a contest or the lottery, and then request their personal and account information to give them their prize money.
- Predatory Investments – Some investment brokers, or unlicensed individuals posing as such, convince elderly residents to invest with them, and then overcharge the resident or intentionally conduct unnecessary trades to charge more fees.
- Pyramid/Investment Scams – Individuals may convince an elderly person to invest in a pyramid scheme. These individuals usually promise a significant and fast rate of return.
What to Do if You Suspect Financial Elder Abuse
If you have noticed signs of financial abuse while your loved one lives in a nursing home, there are a number of steps you may take, including the following:
A lawyer will guide you through collecting as much information as possible about the theft, fraud, or other financial abuse. This includes obtaining what documentation you can about financial or property transactions as well as gathering information from your relative and other witnesses.
Report Abuse to the Authorities
If you believe your loved one has been a victim of theft and/or fraud, you will need to alert the police and the facility where they are residing. If the perpetrator was an employee, administrator, or owner of the nursing home, then this information may be pertinent to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The Office of Caregiver Quality investigates allegations of misconduct in nursing homes.
Review Your Legal Options to Recover Compensation and Property
Your attorney can outline your loved one’s legal options. A civil legal claim may be available depending on the facts of the situation, including how the financial abuse was perpetrated and by whom. Theft by a nurse, an investment scam by a broker, and fraud committed by a nursing home administrator will be handled differently and may lead to different claims.
Consider Power of Attorney or Guardianship
If necessary, a lawyer can guide you through seeking control of your loved one’s finances. This is appropriate if your loved one is not mentally competent to handle their own finances. You may need to obtain a power of attorney or guardianship to have the right to communicate with your relative’s financial institutions. This enables you to alert a bank, credit card company, or other institution regarding the financial abuse and protect your relative’s accounts from further theft or fraud.
Let an Attorney Help You and Your Elderly Loved One
Financial exploitation in nursing homes is much more common than you may think. Authorities on the subject believe it to be under-reported. Unfortunately, as much as you want to trust the nursing home, your loved one is at risk. If you notice any financial issues that may be the result of fraud, theft, or exploitation, call Studinski Law, LLC today. We understand how difficult it is to tell when financial abuse is going on until it is too late. We want to help you catch it as early as possible, though we are here to help you at any stage.