By Kristin Arnold, THELAW.TV
The holiday season is in full swing, and for many people that means lots of shopping, gift-giving, visits from friends and family and unfortunately financial exploitation of seniors. According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), seniors lose at least $2.9 billion a year to financial abuse and exploitation.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say the holiday season is the perfect time to talk with your older family members about financial elder exploitation and what signs they need to be aware of and the steps needed to stop it.
While the U.S. has no national reporting mechanism in place to track the financial exploitation of elders, what they do have are several states willing to help prevent such abuse.
The latest state to wage war against financial elder abuse is Maryland. In October, Maryland joined a minority of about 20 states requiring banks and credit unions to report suspected financial exploitation of residents age 65 and up. The financial institutions must convey their suspicions within 24 hours by phone to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement … and must follow up in writing. Financial institutions that fail to do so will face a penalty of as much as $5,000.
Estate Planning Attorney Kevin Bress of Baltimore law firm Pessin Katz, says the new law now shifts the burden to banks and credit unions to report when they suspect a case of exploitation of senior person’s finances.
Financial institutions usually aren’t keen on more regulation. But many are on board in this case, saying the mandate will raise awareness of a serious problem. The GAO report calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to develop a plan to teach banks nationwide how to identify and report possible financial exploitation.
Unfortunately the people committing a lot of the financial exploitation are, in fact, family members.
Bress says while this Maryland law is a step in the right direction….he does feel this law should be across the board and implemented in all states.
Earlier this year, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and his Senate colleagues proposed the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, a bill to implement a comprehensive network of elder abuse prevention and response measures. The bill would toughen federal standards for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, and require states to incorporate elder abuse screening into health and wellness services.
For more information on financial elder abuse or If you suspect financial elder abuse or exploitation, visit the National Center for Elder Abuse.
Pessin Katz Law, P.A. is one of Baltimore, Maryland’s leasing law firms. Their area of focus is probate and estate planning.