Elder law attorneys have to keep their ears to the ground in an effort to stay abreast of all of the issues that our nation’s senior citizens must address. One of the fine resources that exist to assist in this ongoing endeavor is the MetLife Mature Market Institute. They put out very informative studies on topics that are of interest to the elder law community, and they go into great detail while adhering to some very high research standards.
Recently they released their findings regarding the growing problem of elder financial abuse in the publication titled The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America’s Elders.
Elders are abused financially at an alarming rate resulting in massive losses. Statistics provided by the United States the Department of Justice indicate that at least 11% of Americans who are over the age of 60 have been victimized by some form of elder financial abuse. They say at least because of the fact that so many of the cases of elder financial abuse go unreported it is hard to pin down the full extent of the problem. According to the National Council On Aging only about 17% of the actual instances of elder financial abuse are ever reported to authorities.
Why don’t the victims of this abuse report the crimes to the police? There are a number of reasons for this. In some cases, the senior who has been abused is simply not aware of it. But most of the times these cases go unreported it is because the victim is trying to protect the perpetrator. The MetLife study found that over the course of their investigation 34% of the cases that they uncovered involved a family member, friend, or neighbor committing the abuse. Other estimates suggest that this number is much higher.
Without question, elder financial abuse is a serious problem of interest to all seniors. To gain an understanding of how to protect yourself legally, the wise course of action would be to arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer.