Elder Exploitation #s Tell A Grim Story.
Elder exploitation is a massive problem in America, but especially in Florida due to the large senior community. One in five people are exploited and the average amount exploited per person by a family member is $50,000. Internet scammers can get up towards $400-$500K. In 2019, $36.5B went to scammers and exploiters in the United States.
Scientific research about the exploitable brain has shown that the victims of exploitation have a thinning of the cortical insula. This makes them unable to assess risk as easily, not be able to tell when somebody is lying/trying to scam them, and even not register dangerous facial expressions. They have a hard time telling the difference between a truth and a lie. This may results in bad decision making resulting in the loss of life savings which is devastating to the #aging adult.
How To Identify Elder Exploitation
You may identify exploitation by looking for a change in behavior:
- becoming more secretive
- engaging with a new friend that you don’t know; could be new boyfriend or girlfriend or caregiver
- becoming isolated
- changing phone # or banks
- eliminating joint account holders
- expressing things that are not true (repeated lies by someone who is exerting undue influence with repetition and frequency)
The best way to handle elder exploitation is to have solid estate planning and trusted helpers like a fiduciary who can keep watch over your finances for you.
The state of Florida has some of the best laws to protect seniors from exploitation. At Miller Elder Law Firm, our elder law attorneys use tools like the Exploitation Injunction, that allow us to take advantage of Florida laws and allow us to lock assets down for our clients. We prepare against exploitation in our planning with a tool called the Pre-Need Consent Against Exploitation. When our clients come in, we explain the high risk of exploitation against elders and recommend they allow their most trusted contact to step in and take full control of their accounts if they believe it necessary. We have found that clients are very willing to identify a trusted contact to take over their finances if they are unable to do so because they know people who have been exploited and lost all of their retirement assets.
Florida Laws That Revolutionized Elder Exploitation
In 2014, Shannon Miller of the Miller Elder Law Firm was part of a work group with other #attorneys and practitioners under the direction of then Representative Passidomo (who then became President of the Florida Senate) to redraft the criminal exploitation laws and make them more usable. Five new definitions of criminal exploitation were created. This became useful to elder law attorneys in the civil world because we could use the criminal definition to pursue civil theft and get triple damages. This revolutionized exploitation protection in the United States and Florida was the first state to create these laws.
In 2017, she was part of another group, the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar and the North Central Florida Senior Advocacy Group, who drafted legislation called the Exploitation Injunction that allows the elder law attorney to go to court and lockdown assets for the person being exploited. And, they can reach into the assets of the exploiter if they have taken the money already. This is a great tool for returning assets to the vulnerable adult.
If we can help you and your family with exploitation issues, please contact our Gainesville office.
*Free initial consultations are not provided for Medicaid and Exploitation.
Connect with The Miller Elder Law Firm at 352.379.1900
The Miller Elder Law Firm, the leading elder law firm in Gainesville FL, brings comfort and confidence to the aging process through Estate Planning, wills and trusts, #probate and Trust Administration, Medicaid planning, #guardianships, Elder Care Coordination & Life Care Planning. The firm is located in #gainesvilleflorida and serves the surrounding counties.