Financial abuse is the name given to any actions which result in a person being deprived of their assets or property by another. Financial abuse can be perpetrated in many ways and is not always a case of simply stealing someone’s money or items. Financial abuse can include defrauding or misleading someone into gifting assets and taking advantage of their misunderstanding or good nature.
Financial abuse is prevalent in cases which involve elderly and vulnerable victims who are considered to be easier targets as they may often be unaware that the abuse is taking place. It is therefore important for people to remain vigilant and to spot issues which could indicate that financial abuse has taken or is taking place against a loved one.
Sadly, it is not uncommon to have close relatives such as children, claim that they are entitled to take what they consider to be their inheritance in advance and to use this as an excuse to perpetrate financial abuse.
Similarly, important legal documents such as Powers of Attorney, can be mis-used and abused if the power is placed in the wrong hands and often, where the Attorneys simply misunderstand their powers under such a document. For information, guidance and advice on acting as an Attorney, please contact our Elderly and Vulnerable team, who can assist you further.
Signs Of Financial Abuse:
- Missing valuables from the home (e.g jewellery, ornaments or art work).
- Deliberate isolation from friends and family.
- Income missing or unaccounted for.
- Suspicious payments to third parties.
- Lack of food or amenities in the house and lack of clothing or personal items where the person has sufficient funds.
- Sudden changes in bank accounts or legal documents (e.g Wills).
- Unexplained cash withdrawals or asset transfers.
- Unpaid bills.
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved persons who become closely and heavily involved to the exclusion of others.
What Can Be Done About Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse is a crime and so it can and should be reported to the Police. Unfortunately, these cases often prove difficult to prosecute because of the close relationship between the victim and perpetrator and therefore a reluctance on the victim to press charges.
It is also worth reporting the issue to the Local Authority Safeguarding team so that they can launch their own investigations of the matter.
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From a legal standpoint, there is also the option of pursuing the perpetrator for recovery of money or property by taking action in the civil Courts. This too however, would require the willing of the victim (or their appropriately appointed representative such as an Attorney or Deputy) to take this forward.
Our Dispute Resolution team can assist you with this action and advice. Please contact a member of our team or alternatively, fill out the below form.