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Financial Abuse of the Elderly: Tips for Detection and Prevention

Anthony Marshall made headlines again this past summer when the 89-year-old son and heir of deceased philanthropist Brooke Astor was released from jail on medical parole. Otherwise known as the “octogenarian fraudster,” Marshall was convicted in 2009 for crimes connected to the mishandling of his mother’s estate, including tricking her into changing her will for his benefit when she didn’t have the capacity to do so.

Types of elderly financial abuse

Elder financial abuse isn’t limited to heirs taking advantage of a parent in decline, a caretaker pocketing extra cash or a nursing home billing for services and medications that are not administered. There are many forms of financial abuse that result in complete financial devastation for seniors. These include:

  • Selling unsuitable investments. An investment that is good for one person may not be good for another. A 75-year-old should not, for example, buy an annuity that won’t begin to pay out for another 20 years or more.
  • Selling investments that are not registered. Do not purchase interests in any companies, new or established, that are not registered with the state or federal government.
  • Trying to get you to take out an oppressive reverse mortgage. A number of companies are now targeting seniors who are low on cash and are seeking a reverse mortgage on their home. Some are legitimate, but never sign until you have your lawyer review the fine print so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
  • Getting you to invest in a Ponzi scheme or viatical. Just as Ponzi schemes begin to fall apart when the number of new investors declines and there are insufficient funds to pay returns to current investors, viatical investments fail when people live longer than anticipated and there are insufficient funds to pay their life insurance premiums.

To protect yourself, don’t be pressured by sales pitches with any degree of pressure or coercion. Take your time to research every investment and any people who tell you they can safeguard and/or grow your money for you. Never accept investment advice or have someone prepare legal documents for you if the person is not licensed. Check with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to confirm that your broker is registered.

At Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC , we are committed to helping senior citizens protect their assets and live with financial safety and security throughout their retirement years.

Anthony Lamberti on G+

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