Financial elder abuse
There is no excuse for elder abuse
Every year, State Trustees discovers instances where older people have been taken advantage of financially by those they trust the most. In many cases, we are asked to step in after much of the damage has already been done.
Financial elder abuse involves the taking or misusing of an older person’s money, property or assets by someone in a position of trust. It includes:
- misusing an ATM or credit card;
- taking money or property;
- forcing or forging an older person’s signature; and/or
- persuading them to change the terms of an existing contract, the clauses in a will or their powers of attorney through deception or undue influence.
There is an increasing number of older people in our community. It is likely that this generation will produce a significant transfer of wealth between generations.
Who is most at risk?
Due to the hidden nature of elder abuse, it is difficult to get a sense of the numbers involved.
State Trustees commissioned Monash University to conduct research to shed some light on this ‘silent crime’.
The research found that up to five per cent of Australians over 65 have experienced financial abuse.
The research also found that older women over the age of 80 are most at risk and that their own children are likely to the most common perpetrators.
Other characteristics of older people most vulnerable to financial abuse include:
- diminished capacity due to dementia and other related illnesses
- isolation and dependence on others
- reliance on others for translation, undertaking transactions and services relating to the management of their finances, particularly if they are of a culturally and linguistically diverse background
What can you do about it?
At State Trustees, we strongly believe that prevention and early intervention is the key to making a difference for the ageing Victorian population. We urge anyone who thinks they could be at a risk of elder abuse now or in the future to take hands on approach with the following steps:
- Appoint an independent attorney for financial matters or, if using family, appoint more than one attorney for financial matters
- Get independent advice
- Keep your will up to date
- Make loans legally binding
- If you move in with family or if they move in with you, formally document your living arrangements
State Trustees can help prepare an enduring power of attorney, and/or be appointed as an attorney for financial matters.
Prepare your Power of Attorney
Take the first step to safeguard yourself and your loved ones. Make an appointment to create your power of attorney by filling the form below.
One of our friendly team will contact you within the next 48 hours to organise an appointment time that suits your schedule. If your matter is urgent, please contact us on 03 9667 6444 (outside Melbourne 1300 138 672).