Financial abuse is a common violation of elder law

Parents, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles spend much of their lives loving and caring for the younger generations. As these loved ones celebrate more birthdays year after year, they often need help from those whom they once took care of. Most people do their very best to provide that care, but not everyone is quite so dedicated. Fiduciary financial abuse is a violation of elder law and an unfortunate reality that affects many elderly people in Lake Charles.

This type of abuse involves a fiduciary who misuses or exceeds his or her authority for acting on behalf of an endangered person. An endangered person refers to someone with cognitive, physical and other impairments who is targeted for abuse. A fiduciary acts and manages an endangered person's affairs on his or her behalf. Relatives, guardians and professional trustees frequently take on the fiduciary role, although these individuals must be either appointed or selected for the job.

Guardians acting as fiduciaries have to submit annual reports, which courts review to check for possible abuses. Professional fiduciaries -- such as accountants -- have to follow certain rules and regulations when acting on another person's behalf. In fact, almost all fiduciaries are monitored in some way.

That monitoring does not appear to actually work that well. The National Adult Protective Services Association believes that at least one out of every 20 elderly adults suffer from some type of financial abuse. It is estimated that for every 44 cases of abuse, only one is reported. Since it is hard to settle on exact numbers, the estimated $36 billion that is taken from endangered people every year could be on the low side.

Protecting loved ones is a priority for most Lake Charles families. Despite these families best efforts, many elderly people still suffer and lose money because of fiduciary financial abuse. Fortunately, it is not a hopeless situation. For those who suspect that a fiduciary is not acting in the best interest of an endangered person, he or she has the option to speak with an attorney who is well-versed in elder law and can provide further insight.

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