Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Retirees Should be Wary of Family Betrayal

Note to retirees: Beware the family.

Financial swindles are one of the fastest-growing forms of abuse of the elderly. By some estimates, as many as 5 million senior citizens are victimized each year, says Sara Aravanis, director of the nonprofit National Center on Elder Abuse, which provides information to federal and state policymakers.

Because of the problem's spread, "many states have laws authorizing financial institutions to report suspicions of elderly abuse," says Bruce Jay Baker, general counsel for the Illinois Bankers Association. Earlier this summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission hosted a seniors summit to highlight the issue, with SEC Chairman Christopher Cox noting that protecting seniors' pocketbooks "is one of the most important issues of our time." Yet it's not dodgy financial experts or crooked caregivers who are the biggest threat. It is family. Children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and even spouses are the people most likely to rob the elderly, according to elder-law advocates and attorneys.

The data that exist — albeit in a spotty manner — suggest that financial crimes rank as the third-most prevalent abuse of the elderly. For victims and family members out to help, the way to combat the crime is to know what to look for and how to prevent it. The abuses: Some of the offenses are straightforward: Other crimes are more intricate and generally depend on manipulating an elderly person's emotions.

How to detect it: . Be wary if a family member you aren't close to offers to help you with your finances.

If a family member seems eager to take you to the lawyer to sign a power of attorney, or talks to you about changing a will, deed or beneficiary designation on financial accounts and insurance policies, be cautious.

If Mom or Dad is suddenly cut off from the rest of the family, — or gets calls screened by another family member who always has an excuse for why the parent isn't available, "that's a big red flag," says Sally Hurme, an attorney with AARP Financial Security, an educational outreach arm of the AARP.

If you are convinced that abuse is occurring, (Move Rapidly) . Police officers are rarely trained to investigate elder abuse and thus may not know how to interview an older adult, work with a person who has dementia, collect forensic evidence, or recommend that criminal charges be brought when responding to reports .

financial explotation should be considered if the patient has suddenly transferred assets to a family member.

National Institute of Justice,Catherine McNamee and Mary B Murphy

Elder Abuse Read full article »

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