Safeguarding against financial elder abuse
13 June 2023
No-one likes to think that their family or friends might be using them for financial advantage.
Yet the incidence of financial elder abuse is extremely common and increasingly witnessed by organisations which help support older community members.
Financial elder abuse is the misuse or theft of an older person's money or assets. It includes using finances without permission, using a legal document such as an Enduring Power of Attorney for purposes contrary to the interests of the older person, withholding care for financial gain, and selling or transferring property against the older person's wishes or without their knowledge. Older people may be unaware the abuse is happening or reluctant to believe someone they trust is doing these things.
Public Trustee of Queensland, Samay Zhouand says that most cases of financial elder abuse involve direct family members, trusted friends, caregivers or their attorneys when someone loses the ability to manage their own affairs.
“It happens to people who have a lot of money, those who don’t have much money or live on a pension, to people who live in aged care facilities or live at home,” Mr Zhouand said.
“It’s important to understand this can happen to anyone and you should take steps to safeguard your assets. Protect yourself by ensuring your financial decision-making documents are in order, seek independent financial advice, have more than one person responsible for your finances and establish an Enduring Power of Attorney,” he said.
Fact sheets and information on preventing elder financial abuse are available at www.pt.qld.gov.au.
If you – or someone you know – may be experiencing elder abuse you are not alone. Support is available through the Elder Abuse hotline 1300 651 192 for confidential information, support, and referrals.