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Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

As many as 5 million elderly people are the victims of financial exploitation every year. Financial scams take many different forms, including false sweepstakes winnings, charity fraud, or theft by nursing home employees.

Financial exploitation can also occur when a financial advisor provides advice that is not in the best interest of an elderly client, but rather designed to generate fees for the financial advisor.  The advisor may trick an elderly person into buying an inappropriate annuity that generates substantial commissions for the advisor, or the advisor may “churn” (frequently buy and sell stocks for the purpose of earning commissions) the elderly person’s investment portfolio.

Financial Advice Can Be Complicated.  Advisors and Others Who Provide Advice for the Elderly May Have a Duty as a Fiduciary to Consider Only for the Best Interests of the Elderly Client

Financial planning can be complicated, even to those who are educated and not suffering from any mental impairment.  Financial planning may be impossible to understand by those who have never had to balance a checkbook, or who are suffering from mental impairment.  These individuals must often rely completely on financial advisors or family members to act in their best interest.  Because of their inability to understand financial planning, the elderly often will not have any idea as to whether their money is being managed wisely for their benefit, or even how much money may be in their bank account.

Michigan has enacted civil statutes that can punish those who exploit the elderly for their own financial gain. According to the Vulnerable Adult Protection Act, embodied in MCL 750.174, it is illegal for a person of trust or confidence to obtain money or property from a vulnerable adult using fraud or deceit

Financial Exploitation of the Elderly May be Crime

In addition to civil liability, Michigan also provides criminal statutes that protect the elderly from financial scams and wrongful gain by those who have control over the financial assets of the elderly.  Financial crimes against the elderly are especially appalling as the elderly are usually incapable of recovering from financial losses; particularly as many are too old or frail to re-enter the workforce.  The emotional impact of elder fraud can be traumatic as well.

If A Loved One Has Been the Victim of Financial Exploitation, We Can Help

Please call us so that we can learn about the facts and circumstances of the exploitation.  We will be happy to meet with you at your convenience for a free no-obligation consultation, where we can advise you as to the legal alternatives that may be available.