“Indiana’s senior population is large and growing, providing an increasing target for financial abusers through fraud, scams, and exploitation,” cautioned Indiana Securities Commissioner Alex Glass in a recent presentation to the Financial Planning Association of Greater Indiana.

There are two basic threats to seniors, Glass explained:

  1. Exploitation usually involves someone the senior knows, such as a family member or caregiver.
  2. Fraud is usually perpetrated by a stranger, such as a telemarketer or investment promoter.

“If elder abuse happened to me, it can happen to anyone,” Mickey Rooney stated while testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.” Elder abuse is happening frequently, Glass affirmed, with one out of every five people over the age of 65 having already been victimized by a financial fraud.

Needless to say, as elder law and estate planning attorneys, we are always alert for “red flags” that warn of exploitation and fraud, having seen the suffering scammers – whether family members or strangers – can cause their victims. In fact, protecting aging parents from financial abuse has become a vital element in estate planning.

As we talk with our senior clients about their wishes for their own futures and the legacies they wish to leave to their families, we’ve always encouraged them, to the extent they are comfortable doing so, to invite their adult children to participate in the discussion. Rarely have we encountered the types of “suspicious behavior” that the Securities Commissioner described, where the person accompanying the elder does not allow the elder to speak, or where elders show an unusual degree of fear or submissiveness towards the person accompanying them.

At the same time, it is not only financial advisors and estate planning attorneys who must be alert for signs there has been abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a senior. All persons are required by law to report cases of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation to either the nearest Adult Protective Services, officer or law enforcement, Glass emphasized.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is alive is Indiana – Be aware!

– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team