Elder abuse is a difficult subject for aging adults and their families and can be hard to discuss. There are many elder laws in place to protect older adults from fraud or harm. However, too often the individual and their family members don’t realize abuse has occurred until it’s too late – someone has been injured or their money is stolen. One of the most important ways that a lawyer can provide protection against elder abuse is with estate planning. Seniors can work directly with an elder law and estate planning attorney to put asset controls in place as they age. Concerned family members can consult legal advice on protecting their loved ones from potential abuse.
There are many forms of elder abuse:
1. Physical Elder Abuse
Sick or mentally incapacitated senior citizens are too often victims of physical abuse in both their own homes or in nursing homes. Physical elder abuse includes forms hitting, hurting or sexually harming older adults who cannot take care of themselves, often by someone who wants to gain control of their money and other property.
2. Financial Elder Abuse
Seniors are a growing target of financial fraud. Older adults are often perceived as easy targets and are disproportionately targeted by scams and financial fraud – including marriage fraud. The federal Elder Justice Act of 2010 defines financial exploitation of the elderly as, “the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act . . . that uses the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an elder the rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.”
3. Mental Elder Abuse
Emotionally hurting or neglecting an elderly person to instill fear and gain control often leaves no external scars to identify abuse is happening.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help provide protection against elder abuse by securing who has access to assets and under what conditions. Working with an accountant and an attorney familiar with elder abuse issues will help to protect against elder abuse by using the checks and balances that make sure the assets are protected and certain cause and effect actions are put into place, such as notifications if unusual financial activity occurs.
If you are an older adult who wants to protect your estate and your assets as you age, or are concerned about protecting your elderly parents or a loved one from potential abuse, an experienced Illinois elder law attorney can explain applicable laws and advise you on the best options to provide protection against elder abuse. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-800-0112.