• Financial Elder Abuse/Exploitation: An Epidemic? What should estate planners be aware of, and what can they ethically do?
  • July 1, 2017 | Authors: Cassandra Nelson; Barry Nelson
  • Law Firm: Nelson & Nelson, P.A. - North Miami Beach Office
  • This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Trusts & Estates, a peer review journal for wealth management professionals. Financial exploitation (also referred to as "financial abuse") of elders has become an all too common phenomenon frequently perpetrated by family members, friends, caregivers, "lovers" or other trusted persons. When lecturing on this topic and asking attorneys in attendance if they've encountered financial elder abuse in their practice, a show of hands typically reveals that about one third have encountered some form of such abuse. The manipulation of elders to reap financial rewards isn't novel and has been the subject of much litigation. As medicine and technology increase average life expectancies, the percentage and population of elderly individuals will continue to rise. As a result, state bars and legislatures should enact laws to protect elders to a greater degree and provide better tools for enforcement of such laws. They should also protect attorneys who may report elder financial abuse or suggest and implement estate-planning techniques to reduce an elderly client's ability to unilaterally change his estate plan or make significant gifts, by requiring the advance consent of a third party such as a trusted family member, friend, CPA, attorney or a panel comprised of two or more such persons with the objective of avoiding financial exploitation of such elder.