Everything You Need To Know About Elder Abuse & Fraud
Financial exploitation of vulnerable adults is one of the common injustices suffered by unsuspecting older adults in MN. To understand what financial exploitation of vulnerable adults is, it is important to separate the terms “financial exploitation” and “vulnerable adult”.
A vulnerable adult can be defined as an adult who is unable to care for themselves or their financial matters due to their advanced age, illness, and mental or physical disability. Frequently these adults, when they were younger, entrusted their financial affairs to a caregiver. These caregivers can be a relative (a son, a daughter, a nephew, a niece, a spouse, etc.) or a professional.
Financial exploitation refers to a variety of acts that end up depriving the victim of part or all of their financial assets that are being looked after by the caregiver. Assets can be mismanaged in a variety of ways, including carelessness, negligence and fraud. Financial exploitation of vulnerable adults occurs when an individual entrusted with handling the care and finances of the vulnerable adult uses the assets in question for their own gain.
Acts of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults can be prosecuted under criminal or civil statutes. It can be a serious felony where a person convicted faces time in prison and crippling fines and restitution orders. Birrell Law Firm has a skilled and experienced legal team that has what it takes to defend you against any charges involving financial exploitation.
Financial Exploitation Of Vulnerable Adult Risk Factors
Cognitive impairment of any nature is considered to be one of the most common risk factors for financial exploitation among vulnerable adults; it is much easier for perpetrators to take advantage of victims suffering with memory issues or other aspects of their cognitive faculties. Conversely, as a skilled financial defense attorney can point out, it is also easy for someone suffering from memory loss to loan or give money to a relative, then forget they had done so!
There are many other factors that may increase the risk of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults who do not suffer from mental issues. These include:
Physical disabilities: These may cause adults to be dependent on other individuals, thus creating the opportunity for exploitation.
Isolation and loneliness: Perpetrators of financial exploitation commonly target lonely vulnerable adults. Furthermore, it is harder for close family members or loved ones to protect isolated vulnerable adults from perpetrators of financial exploitation.
Brain changes linked to advanced age: Research shows that advanced age is linked to chemical changes in a persons’ brain causing them to be more trusting of others. This also creates the opportunity for financial exploitation.
Vulnerable adults do not have to be wealthy to be exploited financially. As such, any adult who is subject to the above factors is at risk of financial exploitation.
Signs Of Financial Exploitation Of Vulnerable Adults
The National Adult Protective Services Association has discussed some of the signs that a vulnerable adult might be a target of somone:
- Inability to properly explain their financial situation
- Having numerous checks made out to “cash”
- Having unpaid bills even though they have enough money to cover them
- Foreclosure notices and property liens appearing out of nowhere
- Giving away gifts in the form of cash or other valuable assets
- Unexplained changes to wills and other asset ownership documents
- Spending money carelessly
- Suspicious disappearance of financial records, asset ownership documents and other valuables
Prosecutors and police officers also look to factors like these, seeing them as potential evidence or red flags warranting further investigation.
Monitoring and Reporting Acts of Financial Exploitation
In the state of Minnesota, local laws and regulations have taken the work of monitoring and reporting acts of financial exploitation involving vulnerable adults to new heights with the introduction of the My MN Conservator online project. This system is designed to monitor the actions of conservators/caregivers entrusted with the care of vulnerable adults. Any indications that a certain caregiver has gone beyond their limit are pointed out to the court by the system. The deployment of this system has led to an increase in the number of individuals being investigated and charged with exploiting vulnerable adults.
But for a court to convict an accused person on financial exploitation charges, the prosecution needs more than an online database or a red flag. The prosecution must start by proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that the alleged victim was actually a vulnerable adult at the time the act in question was committed. If you have a fiduciary relationship with a vulnerable adult, and have been reported, investigated and accused of financially exploiting them in a court of law, it is essential that you get the legal assistance you need as soon as possible to get started on your defense while the facts of the case are still fresh in your mind. Doing so can be crucial to protect yourself and your family.
Contact Us Today for a Free Legal Consultation
At Birrell Law Firm PLLC we have the necessary experience and expertise needed to defend you against any legal accusations of financial exploitation of vulnerable adult in a court of law.